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Women’s cricket joins Commonwealth Games as boycott threat looms over shooting

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Women’s cricket has been officially added to the program for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, a multisport competition consisting mostly of countries that were once British colonies or have some other tie to the country.

Beach volleyball and para table tennis have been included in the Commonwealth Games before but hold “optional” status and must bid for inclusion each time the quadrennial event is held.

The program includes familiar Olympic sports such as swimming, gymnastics and track and field, along with uniquely Commonwealth sports such as lawn bowls and netball.

Meanwhile, UK sports minister Nigel Adams is trying to prevent a boycott by India over the exclusion of shooting. The sport has been part of the event since 1974, but Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin has said the host city of Birmingham has no room to host the sport’s full slate of events. Adams is proposing a concurrent Commonwealth shooting competition to be split between in Birmingham and London.

Shooters Union Australia has called for Australia to boycott as well. The gun-rights group is an affiliate of the United States’ National Rifle Association, which was pushed out of its oversight role over the sport in U.S. in 1994.

Archery also failed to make the cut for the event.

Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years, with many Australian players drawing six-figure salaries while the Women’s Big Bash League averages more than 2,000 fans per game. The sport’s traditional eight powers — Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies — all pay some sort of salary to their players. The Women’s World Cup struggled to draw teams to participate for decades but now requires a qualification round.

Commonwealth Games organizers had previously announced the inclusion of several other optional sports such as diving, judo and basketball. 3×3 basketball and wheelchair basketball, mountain biking, track cycling and track para-cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, and para-triathlon.

Birmingham replaced Durban, South Africa, as host of the 2022 Games in 2017.

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India badminton star is world’s top paid female athlete outside tennis

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Pusarla Venkata Sindhu of India— known as PV — turned a silver medal two years ago in badminton at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics into millions of dollars in endorsements.

She’s the favorite to win gold at the Asian Games, though even that result may not yield the same windfall.

The magazine Forbes lists her as the seventh highest-earning female athlete in the world with an income of about $8.5 million — more than 90 percent from endorsements. And almost all from her success in Brazil.

She’s second at home in sports earnings only to India cricket captain Virat Kohli.

Tennis star Serena Williams headed the Forbes list of top earners in women’s sports, but Sindhu is ranked higher than the No. 1-ranked player on the WTA Tour, Simona Halep of Romania.

“To be in the list is a great feeling because everybody compares you with other players — the big shots,” she said Saturday after beating Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia 21-12, 21-15 to reach the quarterfinals.

“Many are coming to me saying now you are a millionaire,” she said, breaking into a nervous laugh. She joked that she now ranks with “the legends.”

India has a dearth of female sports stars, so Sindhu’s success has triggered lots of interest from sponsors.

Another factor driving her marketability is India’s previous lack of success in the Olympics.

India has won only one Olympic gold medal in an individual sport. That was with shooter Abhinav Bindra in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The other eight gold medals all came in field hockey, a team event.

India won only two medals in Rio — Sindhu’s silver and Sakshi Malik’s bronze in women’s freestyle wrestling.

Saina Nehwal, a former No. 1-ranked badminton player, cheered Sindhu’s ascent.

“I’m happy with what I’m earning, and she is happy with what she’s earning,” Nehwal said.

Sindhu knows she’s growing the game at home.

“Badminton as a sport has been increasing a lot,” Sindhu said. “Everybody wants to play badminton right now in India.”

There are a million reasons.

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India plans bid for 2032 Olympics, plus 2 more major sports events

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NEW DELHI (AP) — The Indian Olympic Association says it will bid for three major sporting events — the 2026 Youth Olympics, the 2030 Asian Games and the 2032 Summer Olympics.

The bidding process for the 2026 Youth Olympics is likely to start in 2020. Thailand has also expressed interest in hosting the event.

Addressing a press conference Thursday with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, IOA President Narindra Batra says he expects fierce competition from other bidders.

Bach says India has the capability to host big events but advised it to wait for the bidding process to start. He said no procedure is currently open for the 2032 Olympic Games or for 2026 Youth Olympics.

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