Egypt and WSF call off World Teams after 16 deaths in Cairo attack
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
The Men’s World Team Championship, scheduled for Cairo later this month, has been called off after a petrol bomb attack killed 16 people in the Egyptian capital this morning.
The tournament was hit by the withdrawal of teams from England, USA, Canada, France and Germany earlier this week, each nation citing security fears for their actions. All of the nations had called for the event to be postponed.
However, the World Squash Federation forged ahead with plans to stage the event, with the host nation releasing a letter claiming that security in Cairo was more than sufficient at the airport and the host venue, the Al Ahly Club, which is situated on an island on the River Nile.
Tragically, that announcement was followed by the deaths of 16 people this morning after petrol bombs were thrown into a restaurant in Cairo, causing a massive fire that trapped people inside.
There were no immediate reports of terrorist involvement, with Egypt’s interior ministry suggesting the incident followed a row between disgruntled workers and others at the venue, which also housed a nightclub. At this stage it is not known if any further nations had decided to withdraw from the tournament following this morning’s attack.
No mention of the incident was made in a statement issued by the World Squash Federation announcing their decision to postpone the event. The statement, which appears to convey a feeling of reluctance about the decision, reads:
The 2015 WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship, which was due to take place later this month in the Egyptian capital Cairo, has been postponed.
The Egyptian Squash Federation, hosts of the World Squash Federation event, informed the WSF today of the decision which was taken due to earlier team withdrawals and concerns of others about security.
“We request this postponement with a heavy heart as Cairo is a safe city,” said the Egyptian Federation President Assem Khalifa. “All arrangements for the holding of the event are in place, including full government support to ensure protection as would be afforded to visiting VIPS, and so there is no reason for the championship not to proceed.
“However, we are mindful that some teams did not wish to attend the championship for their own reasons and wish to end any uncertainty for other nations in a positive way by postponing until a later date. It pains us to do so as there is no reason for this and many teams have incurred costs, but it is something we must do to be fair to all.”
WSF President N Ramachandran responded: “It is distressing that this event in the wonderful city of Cairo is being postponed. We can only thank the Egyptian Federation again for stepping in to take it on at short notice after the Kuwait NOC suspension by IOC required us to relocate.
“We will liaise with all member nations after we have taken stock of the position. For now we accept the decision of our esteemed Egyptian partners and express our disappointment to them and the many nations that were in expectation of what would have been a superb championship.”
The WSF Referee Conference which was due to precede the championship is similarly postponed.
The postponement of the World Team Championship follows the collapse of the Women’s World Championship in Malaysia, with the promoters believed to have failed to raise sufficient sponsorship for the tournament to proceed.