Asiad: ACC relief as cricket stays in 2014 Games

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The Independent Online

Cricket was assured of its place in the 2014 Asian Games programme on Monday after fears the sport would be axed, sparking a big sigh of relief from the Asian Cricket Council.

"It has been discussed and it has been accepted that cricket will be part of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon," said Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

Cricket is making its debut at the Games here, but organisers of the Incheon event wanted it chopped from the programme, along with karate, as part of a drive to limit the number of sports to 35.

That would be made up of the 28 Olympic Games sports and seven which reflect the sporting culture of Asia's five zones.

The sport's image here had also taken a battering with India's refusal to send a team while the opening three days of action had failed to spark a stampede of fans to the ground.

Asian Cricket Council chief executive Ashraful Huq was delighted that cricket had kept its place on the 2014 programme.

"I am pleased the uncertainity is over," Huq told AFP.

"It means so much to Asian countries, especially those who do not play at the highest level.

"The Asian Games gives these countries a chance to make their presence felt on an international stage against some of the world's best players, which can only improve their game."

Huq also believes that the decision, backed by the OCA who were desperate to convince Incheon of its wide-scale TV appeal, will only serve to boost the game further in the region.

"These nations receive a lot of support from the ACC, the Olympic Council of Asia and also their own national Olympic bodies," he added.

"I am certain good cricket facilities will be built in South Korea, as they were in China.

"My hope is that in four years' time, cricket would have taken a giant leap in Asia. I just hope India decide to send teams to the Games, their players are being missed here in Guangzhou."

The powerful Indian cricket board refused to field either the men's or women's team at the Games citing prior international and domestic commitments.