Sachin Tendulkar has met International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on the sidelines of the Rio Olympics here, which the Indian cricket icon termed as “wonderful”.
Tendulkar, who is in Rio as a goodwill ambassador for the Indian contingent, sat alongside Bach as the two watched the opening day of rugby sevens, which has made an Olympic return after a 92-year-absence.
“Wonderful spending time with Mr Thomas Bach, IOC president at #Rio2016 @olympics,” tweeted Tendulkar after meeting the IOC chief yesterday.
Tendulkar is keenly tracking the performance of the Indian athletes in Rio and was seen supporting tennis players Sania Mirza and Prarthna Thombare from the stands.
He watched the women’s doubles match alongside Leander Paes, who had lost his men’s doubles first round match partnering Rohan Bopanna yesterday.
Brett Gosper, chief executive of World Rugby, acknowledged Tendulkar’s presence in the stands of the Deodoro Stadium along with Bach.
“Sachin was here for the whole session and loved it,” Gosper said.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has not yet confirmed whether it will push for the inclusion of Twenty20 format of cricket at the 2024 Olympic Games but Gosper feels Olympics would be a fantastic forum to expand the game of cricket.
“For them in cricket terms it’s interesting to see rugby’s journey into the Olympic and why that’s an interesting proposition for cricket,” said Gosper.
“If cricket has similar ambitions to rugby which is to take its footprint out of its traditional comfort zone then there’s nothing better than the Olympics to allow you to do that. Not just at the time of the Olympics, but in the whole qualification, development, the fact you’re on school curricula, the fact you get more money into those countries that normally probably wouldn’t be distributing much money to.
“I definitely think in terms of an expansive mentality, if that’s where cricket’s at, the Olympics would be a fantastic forum for them,” he added.
Gosper also insisted that “cricket would be very good for the Olympics too”.
“Obviously it would bring out a very strong Indian audience, which is considerable, and they’d have to see if their Twenty20 format would suit the Olympics. As an ambition, we can only endorse it,” he said.