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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Blog: Olympic vote, Ramy Ashour and World Squash Day

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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Ramy Ashour (right) protesting in Tahrir Square
Ramy Ashour (right) protesting in Tahrir Square with brother Hisham (left)

IOC VOTE: SIX WEEKS TO GO

Six weeks to go. Three sports in the voting process. One spot on the line for the winner.

That’s the simple process we now face as squash gears up for the big IOC vote in September.

A place in the 2020 Olympic Games will go to squash, wrestling or the combined baseball/softball bid.

The latter, American-based lobby, appears to have weakened its case with the news that regular-season fixtures will not be interrupted, and that leading clubs will not release star players for the Games.

One key element of the voting process is that a sport’s leading players will commit to supporting the Olympics.

If that one element appears to remove baseball/softball from the equation, then it’s a straight head-to-head between squash and wrestling.

The IOC removed wrestling from the Games programme in February and, not surprisingly, wrestling has sustained a massive campaign determined to regain its place.

With a large number of weight categories involved, a multitude of medals may go missing from countries where wrestling is popular.

The whole idea of the IOC revision process was to allow a “new” sport into the Games.

If that target is to be achieved, then only squash fits the bill.

I know that everyone reading this Blog will agree with that sentiment, irrespective of the fact that squash ticks all the boxes for Olympic inclusion.

With a global spread of participating nations, and a guarantee that every senior professional would make an Olympic gold medal their career-defining ambition, squash deserves to win, irrespective of the political agenda that surrounds the occasion.

I just hope that common sense prevails and squash can take its rightful place at sport’s top table, providing a refreshing new face rather than one so recently ejected.

I refuse to believe that the reasons for wrestling’s expulsion have been solved in the space of six months.

WORLD SQUASH DAY: BIG IDEAS WANTED

Reach Out is the theme for the 2013 World Squash Day on October 5.

Following the success of last year’s event, when more than 48,000 players took part in the incredible Olympic challenge match between Team Squash and Team 2020, organisers are keen to come up with some new initiatives.

The Reach Out theme, suggested by WSF chief executive Andrew Shelley, has produced several exciting responses.

Clubs all over the globe are signing up to join in the fun as they share ideas for the biggest promotional event in the sport.

In the UK, plans are being hatched for some long-distance squash combat to follow the example set by former world champion Peter Nicol and his colleague Tim Garner as they played an astonishing series of seven matches in seven continents on seven days.

Clubs in England are planning to converge on a central location, travelling from the north, east, south and west, playing matches at as many clubs as they can on the journey.

SPAIN RAIL CRASH

Spanish squash No.1 Borja Golan lives in Santiago de Compostela, scene of yesterday’s tragic rail accident which claimed at least 78 lives.

Borja, one of the truly nice guys of squash, posted this on his Facebook page:

Sad and painful day for everyone. I just want to thank all the people who have helped to minimize damage from this terrible accident and send all my love to those who have lost a family member or friend. Lots of encouragement to everyone.

RAMY RISKS REPRISALS

World champion Ramy Ashour joined a massive demonstration in Tahrir Square, Cairo, last night (July 26) and risked the wrath of the Muslim Brotherhood with his comments on Twitter.

Former President Morsi was placed under house arrest by the Army after being overthrown following the enormous wave of recent public protests, and has been formally charged with aiding the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

Ashour Tweeted #revolution #NoToTerrorism #NoMoreMuslimBrotherhood

As a world champion, Ramy is a high-profile celebrity in Egypt.

I sincerely hope his remarks do not produce any kind of backlash from the dangerous religious fanatics who would deny freedom and education to the majority of the population, and stone young women who may wish to take up a sport like squash.

Reports from Egypt carried the news that 100 people had been killed and more than 1,500 injured during last night’s clashes.

The squash community is like a global family. Naturally we hope that all our squash-playing friends and their families stay safe during this time of enormous turmoil in their country.

 

MORE GROWTH IN VIRGINIA

As many of you know, Virginia is one of my favourite places on the planet, thanks to my involvement with the Davenport North American Open in Richmond.

The Commonwealth appears to be an ideal barometer measuring the growth of squash in the US, with new courts opening in the city and a brand new club, the hugely impressive ACAC facility, hiring NAO Tournament Director Gus Cook as Head pro.

Further afield, the Boar’s Head club at Charlottesville has opened to a fanfare of rave reviews and will soon be hosting its first PSA tournament on the all-glass showcourt.

Now comes the news that three new courts are being at the McLean club in Fairfax County, North Virginia. Building starts in September at this club, a few miles west of Washington.

We love to hear news of new courts being built.

Wherever you are in the world, please let me know of any new developments in your neck of the woods.

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3 Comments

  1. Ramy’s words and actions may seem a bit reckless to us, but for Ramy they are the minimum that he can do, short of violence, to influence events in his country. He can easily take a non-confrontational path as he is a national hero, but he sees his position as something to be used for society’s good.
    In 1993, when Hindu-Muslim riots were tearing Mumbai apart, Sunil Gavaskar happened to notice, from his balcony, a Muslim family on the verge of being lynched by some Hindu lumpen elements. Without regard for his personal safety, Gavaskar immediately left the safety of his house and interposed himself between the mob and the helpless family, and declared that the mob would have to kill him first. On being recognised, the rioters left the Muslim family unharmed and went away, probably to commit mischief elsewhere.

    • Sesh. Thank you for that response. Gavaskar was a fantastic sportsman who showed astonishing bravery during that incident.
      In a volatile, often toxic and dangerous atmosphere in Egypt, I am not sure that the Muslim Brotherhood would be so compliant, hence my concern for Ramy, his brother and his family.
      Alan

      • You’re right that Egypt in turmoil is a dangerous place for Ramy to be seen in public–there are too many uncertainties.
        Egypt’s dilemma is that a genuine grassroots revolution of 2011 ended up in a theocratic party assuming power using entirely democratic means. That would not have been a problem if, once in power, the MB showed a willingness to be flexible in its policies involving human rights and personal freedom. Unfortunately, the MB took the ballot result as a carte blanche to ride roughshod over other viewpoints. To a large extent, they are responsible for the current mess.
        They should remember that in the 1930s, a gentleman named Adolf Hitler too assumed powers through entirely constitutional means, and ended up subverting the same democratic institutions that gave him legitimacy

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