At a general meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), held in Kuwait on 17th April 2007, it was announced that cricket will be included as a medal sport in the 2010 Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou. Matches will be played on a ODI, 50-overs per side format.
Following hte announcement, ACC Chief Executive Syed Ashraful Huq said "Cricket will receive a major boost across Asia and in particular China, as a result of this enlightened decision. The Asian Cricket Council pledges its support to the Guangzhou games organizers in order to make the event a success."
Asian cricketing powerhouses India and Pakistan have been the drivers behind the inclusuion of cricket in the Asian Games. Now that the decision has been made, top teams from the four test playing nations - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - are expected to compete and it is hoped that the lesser teams such as Hong Kong will also be invited to play in the inaurgural competition. The decision will also boost the Chinese Cricket Association which has boldly stated its ambition of China becoming a force in one-day cricket by the 2019 World Cup.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported HKCA Secretary John Cribbin as saying "While we are associate members of the International Cricket Council [ICC], we are full members of the Asian Cricket Council [ACC]. I hope the 2010 Asian Games will offer the chance for teams like us to compete. We are awaiting details."
Cribbin added, "Now that cricket has been included, we hope the organising committee remembers the sport is widely played in the region. The fact China itself is pushing for the development of the game should help the case of the smaller sides."
The last time cricket featured in a major multi-sport event was at the 1998 Commonwealth Games held in Kuala Lumpur. The gold medal was won by South Africa, who defeated Australia by 4 wickets in the final. New Zealand won the bronze medal.
Despite calls for the number of sports to be reduced, the Guangzhou games will feature 42 sports compared to 39 at the last Asian Games held in Doha in December 2006. By comparison, the Olympic Games hosts just 28 events, with sports such as kabaddi, sepaktakraw, chess and wushu unique to the Asian Games.
An estimated twelve thousand athletes from 45 nations are expected to attend the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. The games will run from 12-27 November 2010.