Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he "never dreamed" cricket would be added to the Olympic programme at an IOC Session in Mumbai ©Getty Images

United States Ambassador to India and former Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti believes the addition of cricket to the Olympic Games programme in 2028, which is set to be approved at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session here, is "a gift to India, a gift to the world".

Garcetti led Los Angeles' successful bid for the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics during his time as Mayor of the city which ended in 2021, and earlier this year he was appointed as the first US Ambassador to India since January 2021.

On Monday (October 9), Los Angeles 2028 proposed cricket along with baseball and softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash for inclusion at the Olympics.

Men's and women's tournaments in cricket are set to be played under the Twenty20 format, returning to the Games the first time since its only previous appearance at 1900, when the Devon and Somerset Wanderers representing Britain beat the French Athletic Club Union in a one-off match.

The approval of the additional sports is expected to be approved by the IOC Session on Sunday (October 15) to Tuesday (October 17), symbolically being held in Mumbai in India, where cricket is the most popular sport and the county is staging the ongoing Men's Cricket World Cup.

Garcetti told India Today approval of cricket for Los Angeles 2028 in Mumbai surpassed his expectations.

Eric Garcetti claimed the inclusion of cricket at Los Angeles 2028 would be
Eric Garcetti claimed the inclusion of cricket at Los Angeles 2028 would be "a gift to India, a gift to the world" ©Getty Images

"I've been working very hard for a number of years, saying we have cricket this huge sport with hundreds of millions of fans around the world, and for some reason it's not been in the Olympics for over 100 years," he said.

"I worked very closely with the chair of the LA28 Olympics, my good friend Casey Wasserman, and we both decided a few years ago let's see if we can get cricket in the Games.

"I never dreamed I'd be the Ambassador in India, the capital of cricket in the world, when this announcement was going to happen here during an International Olympic Committee meeting."

The Ambassador said when discussing the inclusion of cricket, Los Angeles 2028 organisers believed it would appeal to India and beyond.

"Americans are the second biggest streamers of cricket, so we've watched cricket as Americans, but we've never had it," he said.

"This year that changed with Major League Cricket, Shah Rukh Khan has a team in my home town Los Angeles.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tries his hand at cricket ©India Today
Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tries his hand at cricket ©India Today

"It’s beginning to catch with folks [in the US] who are traditionally not cricket fans, and then we've got millions of cricket fans already in America," he said.

"We just thought this is a gift to India, a gift to the world to include cricket in the Olympics finally, and I know it’s going to get the medal count up for India too."

Garcetti claimed cricket's return to the Olympics was proof of its global appeal.

"I am confident that somebody investing in cricket in America right now is going to see it take off, but it's not really an investment for America, this is a recognition that cricket is a global sport," he added.

Despite an IOC-set athlete limit of 10,500 athletes, Los Angeles 2028 has proposed a further three team sports in addition to cricket for inclusion in baseball and softball, flag football and lacrosse.