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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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