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Tears and fury as squash suffers latest Olympic setback

Alan Thatcher
Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad, the Kent Open and co-promoter of the Canary Wharf Classic. Launched the Squash 200 Partnership to build clubs of the future. Talks a bit.

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Skateboarding, breakdancing, surfing and climbing all chosen ahead of squash for Paris 2024
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor

Squash has been dealt another devastating blow in its relentless but frustrating battle for a place in the Olympic Games.

The decision announced today by the IOC to support the inclusion of breakdancing, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding as additional sports in Paris 2024 leaves squash on the outside looking in. Again.

An article on the influential Inside The Games website today revealed: “Breakdancing is in line to make its debut at the Summer Olympic Games, while sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing were all added as additional sports for Tokyo 2020.

“The announcement from Paris 2024 deals a blow to sports such as baseball/softball and karate – the other two extra sports on the Tokyo 2020 programme – and squash, snooker and chess, all of whom launched public campaigns in a bid to secure a place at the Games.”

The article reported that the IOC Programme Commission will discuss the proposals before an Executive Board meeting taking place from March 26 to 28.

The sports will then hope to receive provisional approval from the IOC Session in June before any new additions are officially confirmed by the Executive Board in December 2020, four months after the Tokyo Games.

Breakdancing? Nour El Tayeb dives for the ball against Alison Waters at the ToC in New York, an event that attracted 3.5m views on social media

A joint statement issued today by the World Squash Federation (WSF) and Professional Squash Association (PSA) said they have received the news “with great disappointment”.

The proposals mean that Paris is likely to welcome 32 breakdancing “athletes”, 96 skateboarders, 72 wall climbers, and 48 windsurfers … but no squash players.

The latest setback follows a significant spend by the game of squash to employ marketing experts to sharpen up the sport’s Olympic bid. 

The inclusion of the Interactive Squash Court, launched by German company Fun With Balls and unveiled at the IOC Youth Games in Buenos Aires in October, was seen as a major factor to demonstrate that squash is moving with the times and able to combat the threat of skateboarding, surfing, breakdancing and other activities targeted at a younger audience.

Only last week the PSA and WSF jointly launched the Squash Goes Gold programme, “uniting behind our dream to see squash become an Olympic sport”.

Players and fans have taken to social media to express their feelings of despair. Three-times world champion Nick Matthew asked on Twitter: A message to the IOC: “What does Squash have to do to prove that we deserve to be part of the Olympic Games?”


The joint statement from the WSF and PSA reads:

WSF and PSA have met the announcement on the proposed selection of additional sports for the Paris 2024 Olympic Programme with great disappointment.

The proposed list of four sports only, of which three sports are already confirmed by the IOC on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic programme, leads to a belief that Paris 2024 and the IOC favoured sports already in the Olympic programme, leaving practically no opportunity for other sports.

The unity that our sport enjoys globally is exceptional and is getting stronger by the day. WSF and PSA are supported by the entire squash community and, with our athletes at the forefront, have run a strong campaign that respected the timeline and the criteria set by Paris 2024 and the IOC.

During the campaign, we showed that squash has a vibrant and real forward-looking programme rooted in constant innovation, which strives for more inclusiveness and sustainability, youth engagement and equality across all of our activities in and outside of the court.

We truly believe squash could seamlessly integrate into the Olympic programme with minimal costs and an optimised pool of participants.

Our unique interactive glass court would allow squash to bring a lot of additional excitement and spectacular action to any iconic monument of the host city or shed a new light on less known urban areas, while also helping to engage young people in the sport from day one of the preparations and well beyond the Olympic Games.


The news was greeted with an outpouring of disbelief on social media. This graphic on Facebook was created by squash fan Lee Coverley.

England Squash CEO Keir Worth has released the following statement: “England Squash is extremely disappointed to hear that squash looks set to miss out on inclusion in the Paris 2024 Olympic programme.

“It is particularly heartbreaking for the talented young players from around the world that will miss out on the chance to showcase their talent, hard-work and athleticism on the biggest stage in sport.

“Despite this setback, we remain proud of our sport, its values, its global appeal, the diversity in the world game and the ongoing innovation that has revolutionised the playing and viewing experience in recent years.

“In England, over 1,200,000 people play squash each year and we have male and female players of all ages competing and winning on the world stage, from juniors up to the professional world tour.

“The opportunity to be included in the Olympics would undoubtedly be a huge boost to the sport. Until then we will remain focused on working with the PSA and World Squash Federation to develop the game at every level both at home and around the world.”


Squash Canada issued this statement at 02.50 on Friday February 22:
OTTAWA, ON, February 21, 2019 – As announced earlier today, squash has not been proposed as an additional sport for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games programme, with the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee choosing to put forward breakdancing, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing.

Squash Canada is extremely disappointed with this decision. Paris 2024 is the fourth consecutive Olympics where squash has unsuccessfully campaigned for a place on the program.

“With great disappointment, our global squash community has taken another blow to our collective and long-standing Olympic hopes”, said Squash Canada President, Steve Wren.

“The pathway to reaching International Olympic Committee favour by the World Squash Federation and Professional Squash Association has been conducted with full consideration of previous misfortunes of non-selection. Yet today, with the remarkable progress and accomplishments made to transform squash into contemporary relevance, it seems no clearer for what our sport still needs to address for inclusion. Our young stars will wonder, as we all do, what next?

“But we have been here before, and as a result, squash has emerged stronger in the quest. We as players, fans and lovers of our great sport will continue to pursue the pillars and principles that make squash the best sport on the planet.”

In a joint statement, the World Squash Federation and the Professional Squash Association claimed the proposed list of four sports “leads to a belief that Paris 2024 and the IOC favoured sports already in the Olympic programme, leaving practically no opportunity for other sports”.

The two bodies added they were “greatly disappointed” by the decision but insisted the sport could “seamlessly integrate into the Olympic programme with minimal costs and an optimised pool of participants”.

A delegation from the PSA and the WSF – which included French players Camille Serme and Victor Crouin – presented the reasons for squash’s inclusion in front of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee in early January, where it received positive feedback from the Paris 2024 leadership. The sport has made huge strides forward in areas such as innovation, equality, sustainability and youth engagement – all of which matched the criteria that was communicated by Paris 2024 and the IOC.

Squash Canada remains committed to squash’s incredibly bright future irrespective of the Paris 2024 decision, with the sport’s progress highlighted by the upcoming celebration of Canadian squash at the Canada Winter Games, and the sport’s first $1 million dollar tournament – the PSA World Championships – in Chicago, over the coming week.



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1 Comment

  1. Lets look at the Olympics. As it seems we appeared to fit the criteria set by the IOC for inclusion. Box ticked. This has been done from what I understand time and time again, but clearly, to no avail. So what is the missing link? Well quite simply it is a matter of economics. The IOC are an organisation that requires funding in which to operate. A large percentage of this income/funding comes from selling TV rights to TV companies all over the world. All well and good. The vast majority of these TV companies derive their income from selling advertising slots during the broadcasting of the games. Then companies that advertise on TV during the televised periods of the games will have some vested interest in promoting their product during their allocated slot. Every is one happy, IOC make money, TV companies buy rights then sell advertising slots during the games to make money, the companies that advertise on the TV make money because they sell more of their product because of the advertising on the TV.
    So I hear, why breakdancing? Well it is quite simple, the kit/clothing that these dancers wear is worn by kids all over the world. These kids mostly ‘urban’ look up to these dancers and want to wear what the dancers wear. This is heaven for the manufactures. Just think how many millions of kids all over the world want to buy those caps, hoodies and dancing boots/trainers. This equates to millions if not billions of $ in sales. Manufacturers sell make money, TV companies sell advertising and buy rights for a profit and the IOC make money. At this time squash as a sport does not have that following of viewers, just look at the pathetic amount of people watching the World Open. And let’s not mention that there is no mainstream TV, heaven forbid anyone does that. All those egos will get upset.
    Then I hear whingeing from some quarters of the squash world that they have matched the criteria set out by the IOC and it’s not fair. Well the quarters where that comes from I say this, get over yourself, and accept the facts.
    Squash has to become trendy to many types of people not just one group. Squash is and must be for all. But if the Olympics is truly a goal then the vast majority of its players and viewers have to be similar to those of tennis, that is the economic fact.

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