It's really tough to imagine a sport with over 200 years of history not being played in the biggest global sporting event, Olympics. Cricket was only featured once at the event during the 1900 Olympic Games. A match between France and Great Britain was played and the latter nation won convincingly. The match drew little to no fanfare and buzz and resulted in the exclusion of the sport from the event. Today, Cricket has evolved into a big sport with a huge fan base, but still it remains excluded from the Olympics.
Let's examine the biggest reasons behind Cricket not being part of Olympics.
Although Cricket has the second biggest sports fan base across the globe, it is played or taken seriously in a handful of countries. Cricket is played in over 105 countries but there is a big margin of difference in talent and skills compared to the top 10 cricketing nations. The International Olympic Committee has over 33 requirement or criteria for a sport to be qualified to play in the Games. One of its conditions is that the sport must be played in at least 75 nations popularly for men’s and atleast 40 nations for women’s.
It is also worth noting that the World's elite nations or the most powerful nations like USA, Japan, Canada, Russia, Germany are least interested in the sport.
The venue or field in which a Cricket match will be played cannot be used for any other sport which results in extra costs in the arrangement of venues. Also, specifications of the pitch length and type has to be met and taken care of which makes the work of IOC more tough and expensive.
It is believed that Cricket is a gentleman's sport but in an era of pub-culture sports, IOC won't be willing to spend on a sport which is time consuming. Thanks to 20-20 Cricket this point has become more debatable.
The number of viewers of the sport will be very less during the Olympics especially considering big Cricketing nations like India are against sending their team to the Olympics if the sport qualifies. Many nations would also send their B teams which also will result in the lack of interest from the viewers.
The biggest reason and the most important reason behind IOC's negligence of the sport is the International Cricket Committee's lack of appeal to feature the sport in the Games.
ICC has its own major Cricketing events like the Champions Trophy, ODI World Cup, T-20 World Cup, etc. If Cricket is featured in the Olympics, ICC won't get any broadcast right revenue nor will it get any sponsorship deals. Although, they had send an application to include the sport in the 2016 Rio Olympics they didn't push the appeal at all. Also, Cricket Boards like BCCI which has a huge influence in the governance of ICC has opposed this idea of Cricket being played in the Olympics. Thus, the future of the sport in the biggest global event looks bleak.