By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
The PSA World Championships are heading back to Chicago in July. Once again there will be a million-dollar prize fund split equally between the top men and women. But we are still waiting for an exciting announcement about the venue.
The 2020-21 PSA Squash World Championships presented by The Walter Family will be held in Chicago between July 10-17, 2021.
The 2018-19 event was held in the Great Hall of the city’s Union Station in 2019 but the bitterly cold weather had a negative effect on ticket sales. Egyptians Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini captured the titles on that occasion, winning the sport’s first $1 million tournament in the process.
The PSA have worked hard to rebuild the tournament calendar following the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed more than two and a half million deaths so far.
America has already recorded more than half a million deaths and some estimates have put the figure much higher than that.
In the state of Illinois, more than one million cases have been recorded with more than 22,000 deaths.
This year’s World Championships will be held in accordance with strict COVID-19 protocols. Th PSA report that all players and staff will be tested prior to travelling to the tournament and will face another test upon arrival.
Once a negative result has been received, the competitor will then be allowed to enter the tournament bubble, with further testing every four days during the event.
The Walter Family has also supported the Windy City Open, a PSA Platinum tournament, since 2015, with the 2020 edition boasting $500,000 in player compensation. This made the Windy City Open the most lucrative event outside of the World Championships at that time.
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough said: “The PSA World Championships is the pinnacle of professional squash, and we are once again delighted to be able to offer $1 million worth of player compensation to our male and female athletes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions into the United States resulted in a number of alterations to our planned PSA World Tour calendar. The World Championships were originally scheduled for earlier this year and then moved to July.”
The glass court venue will be revealed next month. Matches played on traditional courts will be held at the University Club of Chicago, which hosts the Windy City Open and the early rounds of this tournament.
The University Club’s Cathedral Hall is a spectacular venue in its own right, with stained glass windows providing a colourful backdrop to the action.
University Club of Chicago Athletic Director and Windy City Open promoter, John Flanigan, said: “The PSA has done an excellent job hosting pro events during the pandemic in recent months. Their thorough protocols have kept the athletes and limited spectators safe.
“The Chicago organising committee is pleased to host the sport’s highest profile professional event. We are optimistic that the pandemic will be trending downwards significantly by July.”
World Championships media coverage
Action from the PSA Squash World Championships presented by The Walter Family will be shown live on SQUASHTV, and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan). The semi-finals and finals will also be shown live on the channels of contracted broadcast partners.
Pictures courtesy of PSA