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."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam