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Afghanistan’s Olympic participation is up to the IOC, according to ICC CEO Allardice

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The International Olympics Council (IOC), not the International Criminal Court, will decide whether Afghanistan competes in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In response to a question regarding how cricket’s governing body will address the issue of Afghanistan’s female players being driven into exile after the Taliban took power in 2021, Geoff Allardice, the chief executive officer of the ICC, stated this opinion.

The IOC accepted the LA28’s proposal in October to introduce T20 cricket as a new sport. The suggestion was based on the sport’s popularity among younger people and in Commonwealth nations, as well as its potential for expansion into markets like the USA.

The IOC accepted the ICC’s proposal, which called for a six-team event for the men’s and women’s competitions. The championship format and team qualification process will be hammered out by the LA28 and ICC by 2025.

The LA28 organizers have placed a strong emphasis on gender equality in the Olympics, where both sexes often compete in individual and team sports. Nevertheless, since the Taliban took control of the squad in August 2021, 22 of the 25 contractual players have moved abroad, leaving Afghanistan without a women’s cricket team. But, there’s still a chance that in five years the men’s team may participate in the competition.

Allardice stated on the BBC’s Stumped podcast, “The National Olympic Committees of those countries field the Olympic competition teams.” “We present our sport for inclusion with the LA28 organizers as an international athletic association. Additionally, cricket has been included by the IOC and LA28. Regarding the National Olympic Committee of Afghanistan’s stance, the IOC is perhaps better qualified to comment on that than I am. However, I am aware that the IOC has been keeping an eye on the advancements or changes made there. Like other international athletic organizations, we have a same stance on cricket and supporting our members in Afghanistan.”

The IOC has made it clear in its correspondence with the Taliban regime that if restrictions on women’s access to sports persist, the country’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) faces suspension. Afghanistan’s bid to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris has not been approved by the IOC.

James Macleod, IOC head of Olympic Solidarity and National Olympic Committee Relations, remarked that the Hangzhou Asian Games recently showed a “tiny bit of progress” in his speech to the IOC session in Mumbai in October. Of the 83 athletes from Afghanistan, 17 were female. The women athletes, who are all foreign-born, participated in volleyball, athletics, and cycling, but the males took home all five medals. At the occasion, there were both male and female flag bearers.

At the Mumbai session, IOC President Thomas Bach made clear that Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee had to demonstrate the progress it was making in order to guarantee that women’s cricket players were given encouragement and support to compete at all levels. “In this broader context, cricket will be considered in the end,” he stated.

In the absence of the women’s team, the men from Afghanistan competed in the gold medal match at the Asian Games. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), according to Allardice, who visited Hangzhou, made a commitment to advance women’s cricket when it was awarded ICC Full Membership in 2017.

Allardice stated, “They were in the process of doing that through to 2021.” “And in 2021, the government of the nation made changes and implemented laws and regulations that forbade women from participating in sports. Although we have communicated with the Afghanistan Cricket Board, they maintain that they must adhere to national laws and government regulations.”

With the ultimate goal of assisting women in playing cricket safely, an ICC working group headed by deputy chair Imran Khwaja has been in communication with the Taliban leadership for the past year. “The ICC board needs to decide whether to assist its members in promoting cricket in accordance with national regulations. The answer is yes, Allardice stated.

The ACB is a Full Member and is financially supported in large part. The ACB’s portion of the commercial revenues for the upcoming cycle (2024–2027) is estimated to be USD 16.8 million, according to the ICC’s financial distribution model. According to Allardice, the member boards were free to use the money anyway they saw suitable.

It is entirely up to those members how they divide up the monies and how they use them. We have control over how that money is allocated and whether it goes toward certain contracts or other contracts with any of our members. How that should be handled is not something we specify.”

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