The Gabba revamp and cricket’s Olympic connect
The Queensland Government, in an effort to strengthen its bid for the 2032 Olympic Games, has announced the redevelopment of the Brisbane Cricket Ground, commonly known as the Gabba.
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is one of the cities bidding for the hosting rights of the 2032 Olympics and is the International Olympic Committee’s preferred host.
"The IOC is considering seizing the momentum offered by the excellent project of Brisbane 2032 and the Australian Olympic Committee,” a statement from the International Olympic Committee said.
Should Brisbane win the hosting rights, it will be the third Australian city, after Melbourne and Sydney, to host the Olympics and the Gabba will be one of the key venues.
Interestingly, it was at the Gabba where the Indian cricket team completed the glorious Test series win over Australia, earlier this year.
Cricket, however, has only made a lone appearance in the Olympics at the 1900 Paris Games.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), however, is keen for the sport to be a part of the Olympic Games, possibly via the T10 format and as early as Los Angeles 2028.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has also backed the decision of the sport’s inclusion, agreeing to field both men’s and women’s teams, should cricket return to the Games.
The Indian women’s team’s participation at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games next year has been confirmed too.
Cricket grounds used in Olympics
Although cricket has featured just once in the big-ticket event, cricket grounds have been used to organise a number of Olympic events.
Melbourne Cricket Ground - Melbourne 1956
Melbourne hosted the 1956 Olympics and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) served as the main stadium, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and was the venue for the athletics events.
MCG also hosted the semi-final and the final of field hockey, in which India won gold by defeating Pakistan. It was Indian hockey team’s sixth consecutive top-place finish at the Olympics.
Football matches, including the bronze medal and gold medal tie, were also conducted at the stadium. Unfortunately, India missed out on a medal by a whisker, going down 3-0 to Bulgaria in the bronze medal match. It still remains India’s best outing in football at the Olympics.
Then at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, seven men’s football matches were held at the MCG.
The Gabba - Sydney 2000
Another seven of men’s football matches at Sydney 2000 were held at the Gabba in Brisbane. These included select matches of Groups C and D.
It also hosted the quarter-final between Brazil and Cameroon. Ronaldinho scored the solitary goal for Brazil while strikes from Patrick Mboma and Aaron Nguimbat steered Cameroon to the semis.
Lord’s Cricket Ground - London 2012
Also known as the home of cricket, the Lord’s Cricket Ground served as a venue for the 2012 London Olympics.
The ground hosted the archery events - men’s individual, men’s team, women’s individual and women’s team.
Two spectator stands, which could accommodate up to 5,000 spectators were built on the outfield in front of the main pavilion.
Utmost care was taken to protect the cricket pitches of the ground and to keep it ready for the Test match between England and South Africa two weeks later.
"We understand that it's going to be very challenging in order to patch up the outfield in time for the Test match but we're going to make sure it's playable and safe,” John Stephenson, then head of cricket, Marylebone Cricket Club, told The Guardian.
Cricket stadiums have time and again acted as venues for the Olympics. And with Brisbane gearing up for the 2032 Games and the Gabba going into redevelopment, it is certain that cricket grounds will continue to play a part in the Olympics, regardless of the sport’s comeback to the Olympics.