Squash makes its case again for a place in the 2020 Olympics
By HOWARD HARDING and NATHAN CLARKE
Squash has made it to the shortlist for inclusion to the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, and a decision will be made in September.
After the disappointment of missing out on a place on the programme for the 2020 Games at the IOC Congress in Buenos Aires in 2013, squash has been given the chance to present its case again.
Today’s announcement by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee that squash is one of eight sports shortlisted, from which a final recommendation will be made to the IOC in September, has been grabbed with both hands by the World Squash Federation.
“We are confident that squash would bring something special to the programme of the Olympic Games,” said WSF President N Ramachandran on behalf of players in the 185 countries in which the sport is played.
“Squash is a fine, gladiatorial sport played all over the world and featuring great athleticism, competition and broadcast output.
“We are very grateful to the Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Programme Panel for including us in the shortlist from which nominations to the IOC will be made.
“There is a long and strong squash tradition in Japan, with the Japanese Squash Association closing in on its 50th anniversary,” Ramachandran added.
“Tokyo hosted some of the biggest professional events in the world a little while ago and now has great juniors such as Satomi Watanabe and Ryunosuke Tsukue who are doing so well at world level.
“The Olympic Games in 2020 would be perfect timing for them!”
PSA: Squash would be perfect addition to the Games
The Professional Squash Association (PSA), the organisation responsible for the administration of men’s and women’s professional squash, have welcomed the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to include the sport within the latest 2020 Olympic Games shortlist unveiled today.
Squash was named alongside Baseball/Softball, Bowling, Karate, Roller Sports, Climbing, Surfing and Wushu in the eight-strong shortlist which comes following the IOC’s decision to abolished the cap of 28 sports for the Summer Games in December 2014 and move to an “events-based” system.
A number of other sports applied for inclusion in Tokyo 2020, including racquetball, but failed to make the shortlist: Air sports, bowls, bridge, chess, dance sport, floorball, flying disc, football, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, sumo, tug of war, underwater sports and waterski and wakeboard.
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough said: “We’re delighted that squash has once again been included within the Olympic Games Shortlist and look forward to following the progress of the IOC and Tokyo 2020 committees as they build towards their final decision in August 2016.
“The Olympic Games should be the pinnacle event in any athletes career and inclusion in the Games would be a defining moment for squash and offer our players, who represent over 60 countries around the world, the chance to compete for what would unquestionably be the most prestigious title in the sport.
“With that in mind and as the most demanding, dynamic and gladiatorial racket sport in the world, with the ability to be played virtually anywhere in the spectacular setting of a state-of-the-art four-walled glass show court, we feel that squash would be the perfect addition to the 2020 Olympic Games and offer Tokyo the chance to showcase some of the city’s most stunning locations in a truly unique sporting environment.”
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy said on Twitter: “I really hope that we get a chance to be in the Olympic Games.
“We want to show the whole world that we are some of the fittest athletes around.”
The Egyptian’s brother, Marwan, also championed squash’s cause, saying: “We are back on the shortlist. This is great news for squash.”
World No.38 Adrian Grant sent out a further rallying cry, adding: “We gather hope again for a momentous period for squash. Please support us.”
BACKGROUND (from the WSF website):
The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has received applications from 26 IOC-recognised International Federations (IFs), including WSF, proposing events to be considered for inclusion at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
The Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Programme Panel has examined each application and a shortlist was announced on 22 June 2015. The second phase of the application process will now commence.
Phase II will include the submission of further details from the shortlisted IFs and a presentation to the Additional Event Programme Panel will take place in Tokyo.
The Additional Event Programme Panel will propose its recommendations to the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, which will make a final decision on the successful event(s) to be proposed to the IOC.
The final decision, in line with the Olympic Charter, will be made by the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August 2016.