While there is genuine interest from some International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas members for cricket to be part of the Pan American multi-sport Games, there is insufficient groundswell support presently and it’s too late for a push to be made for the sport to be part of the 2015 Games in the Golden Horseshoe and Greater Toronto Area regions, says ICC Americas regional development manager, Martin Vieira.
The Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), which governs the Pan Am Games held every four years, comprises 41 members.
While 17 are part of the ICC Americas regional development program and 14 are affiliated to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) which is responsible for the development of the sport in the Americas region, far too few regional countries are members of their Olympic associations.
Canada, Argentina, the Cayman Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica cricket boards are the only regional members of their national Olympic associations.
“That’s a problem right there,” said Vieira. “If we are going to make a meaningful presentation, it would add credibility to the application if we can show these countries are in fact members of their national Olympic committees. The other thing is that when we go to PASO, we have to convince them that at least 20 of our countries are interested. I am confident that we can get at least 12 of them on board and the WICB will have to provide us with the rest to make this work. But right now, we don’t have the numbers to make a push for cricket to be included in time for the 2015 Games.”
Vieira said the ICC Americas approached PASO three years ago to discuss the possibility of the sport being included in last year’s Guadalajara Games in Mexico.
“We were too late and we were also told there was not much interest then in cricket in the ICC Americas countries that make up PASO,” said Vieira. “Just after the International Olympic Council granted recognition to the ICC in February 2010, Cricket Canada indicated they would take the lead in attempting to get the sport into the Pan Am Games. We said we would be more than willing to add our support.”
Vieira said then Cricket Canada president, Ranjit Sani, contacted him in late February with a request to attend a PASO meeting in Mexico City in early March and make a pitch for the sport to be included in the 2015 Games.
“This was two weeks before this important meeting and I didn’t feel there was enough time for me to prepare and make a solid contribution,” said Vieira. “I did some background work in the meantime and found that it was virtually impossible to get cricket into the 2015 Games which were already awarded. PASO would have had to come back to the local Games organizers, which had put in a bid based on certain sports and costs, asking for an additional sport. That would have meant a tremendous additional cost even though we have the facilities here.”
Since 2007, host countries have been contracted to manage the Pan American and Parapan American Games.
Cricket has never been part of the Pan Am Games, which were first held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1951. The sport was included once in both the Olympic Summer Games in 1900 in Paris and the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
In addition to strengthening the regional bid for cricket to be part of future Games, Vieira said ICC Americas cricket bodies that are members of their national Olympic associations are entitled to potential sources of funding.
“All they have to do is prove that they are the sole recognized body for the sport in their country, they are ICC members and they cover most of their country,” he added. “Canada had to prove they are in six of 10 provinces when they put in their application. Now they are in all 10. A country like Mexico will have to look at how they can expand because the sport is not played in many of their provinces.”
ICC Americas countries Turks & Caicos and the Falkland Islands, ICC affiliates since 2002 and 2007 respectively, do not have Olympic committees because they are British Overseas Territories.
BY RON FANFAIR