By ALAN THATCHER
The squash world’s hopes of landing a place in the 2020 Olympic Games received a significant boost with the news that leading British sports lobbyist Mike Lee is to manage the WSF bid campaign.
Lee, the chairman of Vero Communications, is one of the most successful operators in this field.
He was instrumental in helping Qatar to land football’s 2022 FIFA World Cup and helped Rio to beat Chicago in their bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. More recently, he was behind PyeongChang’s successful bid to stage the 2018 Winter Games.
Ironically, he helped Rugby Sevens to land one of the two places available in the 2016 Olympics ahead of squash, whose bid was dismissed early on in the voting process.
Now the WSF is hoping to benefit from Lee’s enormous experience, influence and network of international contacts to help squash to gain a coveted place at sport’s top table.
As well as providing a massive shop window to showcase squash, Olympic status would enable the sport’s national federations to benefit from significant increases in government funding.
The appointment of Vero Communications as the WSF Bid Management Company follows the news earlier this week that squash had been placed on a shortlist to bid for a place in the 2020 Games.
Lee, who has been awarded an OBE, is former Director of Communications and Public Affairs for London’s sucessful 2012 Olympic bid.
He said he was looking forward to leading the squash bid. He said: “We are thrilled with this appointment. Our aim is to help squash put forward a compelling case to the IOC Programme Commission and wider Olympic family on why the sport would be a fantastic addition to the Games.
“There is a long road ahead in the campaign but we are excited by the challenge. Working with President Ramachandran and the WSF team, we will do all we can to help ensure that the voice of Squash is heard all the way to the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013.”
WSF President N Ramachandran said: “I am delighted that we have reached agreement with Vero for them to be our Bid Management Company and communications advisers and we look forward very much to working with Mike Lee and his colleagues in trying to realise our long-held goal of squash becoming a Summer Olympic medal sport from 2020.
“When we met Mike, we felt straight away that he understood our sport and our ambitions. Vero have a tremendous track record in assisting bidding cities and sports so squash will benefit immensely from drawing upon their experience and knowledge.”
“Having Vero on board will be a massive boost for our bid,” said WSF CEO Andrew Shelley following today’s WSF announcement. “Mike Lee is hugely respected by the Olympic fraternity and his incredible success rate on behalf of bid teams in various sporting contexts speaks for itself. After helping to bring the 2018 Winter Olympic Games to PyeongChang in South Korea yesterday, we hope he can sprinkle some magic our way next!”
The IOC will decide which sports, if any, will be added to the Olympic Games Sports Programme from 2020 at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013.
Vero website: www.verocom.co.uk