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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Blog: Squash stars enraged by Olympic slam-down

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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Tokyo: A no-go for squash
Tokyo: A no-go for squash

By ALAN THATCHER

Devastated squash players last night demanded an investigation into Olympic voting procedures as wrestling was reinstated to the Games for 2020.

Squash finished third in yesterday’s vote in Buenos Aires behind wrestling and a combined bid from baseball and softball.
Wrestling registered 49 votes, baseball 24 and squash trailed in third with 22, missing out on a debut appearance in Tokyo.

England’s former British Open champion Lisa Opie, now an osteopath in London, said: “I am totally gutted. We absolutely deserve to be in the Olympics. The voting system has been a farce. The process has been described one observer as corrupt.”

Squash stars claimed the IOC contradicted their own decision to kick wrestling out of the Games in February before bowing to a highly political campaign, featuring Russian president Vladimir Putin, to allow the sport to immediately reapply.

Many squash players feared that the strong-arm alliance of the USA and Russia, the two countries who claimed most of the wrestling medals during last year’s Olympic Games in London, might prove to be unbeatable.

Those concerns were proved to be correct as wrestling achieved more votes than squash and baseball combined. Quite how they managed to persuade the IOC that they had overhauled an entire sport inside a few short months was not exactly clear.

Australian No.1 Cam Pilley added: “I am absolutely devastated. Squash ticked all the boxes it was told to tick by the IOC yet still didn’t get selected. The IOC contradicted their stated policy of bringing in a “new” sport for 2020. It smells funny to me.”
Former world champion Nick Matthew said: “The sport is clearly gutted but I had prepared myself for this outcome. The decision had a feeling of inevitability about it.

“It was clear to everyone involved that wrestling was going to be voted back in so it begs the question: was the last four years a waste of time?

“No is the answer because we have improved dramatically, especially the TV coverage, but if we tick all of the IOC criteria, as we clearly do, it begs another question, which is: What do we have to do?

“There was a promise to vote in a new sport, which has not happened. Very confusing.”

Guernsey’s Chris Simpson wrote on Twitter: “I don’t think squash should bother reapplying for inclusion. We’ve done everything we can to no avail. We should focus instead on simply growing the sport.”

Egypt’s world number one Ramy Ashour, who led the squash presentation team in Argentina, said: “We were the underdogs going into the vote but competed like champions. Squash will be back.”

Canadian player Mike McCue Tweeted: “We got even fewer votes than baseball. The only time those guys break a sweat is when the drug testers show up.”

World Squash Federation president Naranswamy Ramachandran, from India, said: “This decision is heartbreaking for millions of squash players around the world, particularly given the 10-year journey we have been on to join the Olympic programme.

“As the only new sport in the shortlist, we believed squash offered something for the future and I still hope our inclusion may be possible.

“I hope that today is not the end of our Olympic journey.”

 

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4 Comments

  1. I tend to agree with the comments of Lisa Opie . What more we can do as a sport to justify inclusion escapes me at present. Gutted for everyone who loves and plays the sport

  2. To me the exclusion of wrestling was only a tough way of saying – Get your act together! Wrestling really is one of the cornerstones in the Olympics so kicking them out will be VERY tough.
    If they had wanted to be serious they should have said – no wrestling in Tokyo – but after that. That could in a way have saved their faces both towards the wrestling community and all other sports aspiring for the honor of participating.
    With the games going in Tokyo I’m not surprised at all that baseball got more votes – it’s a huge sport over there and in US and it’s a sport with financial capacities that we are not even to close to.
    I’ve said it before and I will repeat it – Why not challenge the system and say that our sport is a wintersport?? Why not get the IOC to understand that not all wintersports are played/performed on ice or snow? The winter games is a much smaller playground and with the glass courts bringing squash in would be quite easy to do in excisting arenas. Yes, I’ve contacted the Swedish IOC delegate only to be told that it has to be on snow or ice – my immediate question was of course – Why? No answer was the answer.
    The one thing we have to do though is to help the sport grow so that the delegates cannot look the other way again. As for the winter alternative – Why not??

  3. I forgot that after the part about wrestling it should say:
    – but after that let’s see what happens.

    They should of course not be allowed back automatically.

  4. Wrestling is not the issue. Squash does not have the all powerful members involved at the top or finacial clout that a sport such as Baseball or Golf does. This is to its credit and long may it continue. Call foul, fight the corruption and keep throwing everything at the IOC to get inclution,but don’t bow down any further to this corporate machine.

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