Squash: Sport hopes it is third time lucky in bid to join exclusive Olympic club

After making changes to please the IOC, the sport is confident of winning race to be at 2020 Games

Six days before Christmas the representatives of seven sports will gather in Lausanne to pitch for a part in the greatest show on earth: a place in the Olympic Games. It is an eclectic grouping of sport climbing, karate, a Chinese martial art called wushu, a joint baseball/softball bid, roller sports, wakeboarding and squash.

There will be no early Christmases for any of them as a decision as to which should be added to the 2020 Games will not be reached until next summer, but for the sport of squash a few more months of waiting will not seem an eternity. They have been here before.

This is its third attempt to gain access to an exclusive club. In February the International Olympic Committee will decide which from the current roster is dropped, then in May there will be a last presentation, to the IOC's executive board, which will in turn recommend a single sport to be put before the full IOC membership at their gathering in Buenos Aires in September.

Three years ago in Copenhagen squash lost out to rugby sevens and golf, which make their debuts in Rio in 2016. The sport will begin this round as favourites and the determination of the World Squash Federation to succeed at long last is demonstrated by hiring Mike Lee, who was involved in helping London win the Games and, most remarkably, Qatar clinch the 2022 World Cup finals, to advise on their campaign.

Tomorrow is World Squash Day, a campaign that existed pre-Lee, and one that will see the involvement of some 40,000 players in 72 countries. It is all about backing the bid.

"It will show to the Olympic movement what we do bring to the Olympics in terms of numbers and passions," said Andrew Shelley, chief executive of the WSF.

Squash has been part of the Commonwealth Games since 1998 and it is also included in the Asian, Pan American and All African Games. "We are in everything else," said Shelley. "We would like to make the last step. As a young, healthy, drug-free sport, we've had world champions from every continent. We are genuinely world-wide."

 

 

It was rugby and golf's better "commercial viability" that helped secure IOC backing and this is matters a great deal to the IOC. The WSF have worked hard to sell the sport and make it more media-friendly, in particular with the approach to to TV coverage. Courts now have glass walls and floors – the entrance to the court has even been moved from its traditional place in the back wall to the side to improve the cameras' view.

"We have spent a lot of time listening to what the IOC have had to say and we think we are ready now," said Shelley.

Squash will never match the commercial appeal of golf, but it can push its global support. Argentina, Namibia and Korea will compete for the first time at the women's world team championships in France this year.

Olympic recognition would bring financial advantages to the sport and that is why there is intense competition to earn a place. Rugby sevens' involvement has already seen the number of full-time teams rise. China and Netherlands are among countries that now have professional women's teams. Here, it would mean funding from UK Sport towards its Olympic athletes.

Two Britons, James Willstrop and Nick Matthews, are currently ranked one and two in the world, but if squash's time does come there's will be gone. The current generation though are well aware of what an Olympic opportunity would mean.

"I would trade all six of my world titles for just one Olympic gold medal," said Nicol David, the women's No 1 from Malaysia. "Every world title means the world to me – that's how important the Olympics is in my heart."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935