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Cricket among latest sports to get IOC recognition

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Cricket, sports climbing and power boating were formally endorsed Thursday as recognized sports by the International Olympic Committee, the first step toward eligibility for inclusion at the 2020 Summer Games.

The condensed Twenty20 format has grown rapidly in popularity over the last three years, led by the lucrative Indian Premier League and the relatively short time frame for matches.

Cricket was played at the Olympics in 1900, when a team from Britain beat France in a two-day match. The 50-over format for cricket has been played at the Commonwealth Games and will be on the program for the Asian Games at Guangzhou, China, in November. Those are the only two feasible cricket options for the Olympics, with a test match lasting up to five days and only seriously played by 10 countries.

"They are recognized federations by us, which now means they can take part in IOC events and eventually obviously postulate themselves if they wish to take part in future Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said after a meeting of the IOC's general assembly. "Until you're a recognized sport, you can't do that.

"It could be seen as the first stage. It allows them to take part in programs that the IOC runs."

Rugby sevens and golf were the most recent additions to the Olympic sports program and will be played in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Baseball and softball were dropped from the Olympic program after the 2008 Beijing Games.

The next vote on the sports program is expected to be held in 2013, when the decision on host city for 2020 will be taken by the IOC.