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
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
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