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Cricket in 2024 Olympics if Rome wins hosting bid

Cricket may move from the opening ceremony, as seen here in 2012, to the actual games in 2024 Getty Images

Cricket will be included in the 2024 Olympics if Rome wins its bid to host the games, the president of the Italian board has said.

Rome is one of the cities bidding to host the Olympics in 2024 - alongside Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest - and, under new regulations, will have the opportunity to add five sports to the games as they see fit. France Cricket is attempting to win a similar commitment with the Paris organising committee.

"If Rome hosts the Olympics, cricket will be included," Simone Gambino, president of the Federazione Cricket Italiana (FCI) told ESPNcricinfo. "We have had a firm commitment from the organising committee."

It is likely that, if Rome does host the games, cricket would be held in Bologna. The city hosted World Cricket League Division Four matches in 2010 and though the availability of turf pitches may be an issue, there would be time to overcome that should the bid be successful.

Which nations would be involved remains open to debate. There would probably be a maximum of 16 teams invited to take part, though there is a possibility of just 12, with Olympic regulations suggesting they will be spread across the globe.

So, if only 12 teams were included, three might come from Europe, three from Asia, two from Africa, two or three from America and the Caribbean and two or three from the South Pacific area. It could well be that some well-known cricket nations - notably England, who are part of the UK in Olympic terms - miss out.

"Roma 2024 would welcome new sports, such as cricket, in the Olympic program also in consideration of the increasing number of people that are actively playing it in Italy," a spokesman for the Rome 2024 organising committee told ESPNcricinfo. "We are however fully aware that such a decision belongs to the International Olympic Committee and therefore our planning is exclusively based on the indications received from the IOC in Lausanne."

The news emerged as the ICC continued its annual conference in Edinburgh. Having started the week with high hopes of winning agreement on a number of fairly radical proposals - the introduction of promotion and relegation in Test and ODI cricket, the return of a World T20 every two years and a change in the manner in which revenues are pooled and distributed among other things - it now appears it will take longer than anticipated for all the strands to come together.

As a result the press conference planned for Saturday, when the ICC hoped to unveil the agreements, was cancelled and an extra meeting has been arranged for late August in Dubai. The next ICC board meeting takes place in South Africa in October.

While tangible progress has been limited, the mood of the conference has been notably more optimistic than in previous years. After years of being "bullied" (in the words of one Associate delegate) by a couple of dominant Full Member nations, the talk now is of "family" and "consensus." Plans have not been derailed as much as given a more realistic timeframe for completion.

One intriguing suggestion from the meeting concerns qualification for future World Cups. While Associate members will likely be disappointed by the proposal that the tournament remains a 10-team event, some discussion has taken place around the possibility of only the top six teams in the ICC rankings qualifying automatically with the other four gaining qualification through a play-off tournament. Such criteria, even if accepted, is unlikely to be introduced until the 2023 tournament.

Other matters dealt with the unanimous election of Saudi Arabia as the 39th Associate member, and the unanimous ratification of the suspensions of the USA Cricket Association (USACA) and the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN). They were suspended in June 2015 and April 2016, respectively. An ICC delegation, including board members, will visit both suspended nations shortly.

"Both Nepal and the US are important Members of the ICC as they have tremendous talent and potential," ICC chairman Shashank Monohar said. "The ICC, as part of its game and market development strategy, will continue to provide the countries with as much support as possible so that they can put in place good governance and cricket structures."