Squash 2020 Final Olympic Plea5 Sep 2013
This Sunday will see a pivotal moment in Squash history; whether we gain inclusion into the Olympic Games or not. The vote will see Squash pitted against the combined bid of Baseball/Softball and the heavyweight favourites of Wrestling.
The International Olympic Committee will gather from the 7-10 September to discuss, amongst other things, the host city for 2020, election of a new President, and to finalise the sports programme (election of a new sport).
The big date for Squash will be the 8th September when 104 members of the IOC will be gathering in Buenos Aires to hear the various pleas of the shortlisted sports. Done alphabetically, each sport will get 20 minutes to make their case for inclusion followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers before the decision gets put to the vote. There is then a secret ballot with each member voting for their preferred option. If one sport gets over 50% of the vote that’s it, otherwise the lowest vote is eliminated and there’s another vote between the final two.
New Zealand Squash fans can expect to hear the news of the decision at around 3.45am on Monday 9 September after an expected announcement on Sunday at 12.45pm Argentinian time.
With the other sports being recently voted out of the Olympic Games, Squash would be the only “new” sport in the games. This will be the case the World Squash Federation representative will surely give to the IOC. The IOC has a long list of 39 criteria it requires of an Olympic sport, many of which Squash have invested a lot of time and money into developing after two previous failed Olympic bids.
Out of the shortlisted sports it would appear (to squash fans at least) that Squash fills all the criteria demanded by the IOC. With thriving women’s and men’s professional tours there is gender equity as well as world excellence with world champions coming from all 5 continents. With the new additions of coloured glass courts, state of the art lighting, video technology and online streaming, Squash is as easy to view as ever, banishing claims of it not being a spectator sport or suitable for TV. A glass squash court can be put up in a matter of days in all manner of places with tournaments being hosted at distinctive locations such as the Pyramids of Egypt and Grand Central station in New York. There is also no doubt that the Olympics would be the pinnacle of competition for any squash player with world champion Nicol David saying "I would happily trade all six world titles for an Olympic gold medal". With an estimated 50,000 courts in 185 countries Squash is also certainly a sport with global appeal and a worldwide audience.
However despite these changes, it would appear that wrestling has also made strides to achieve the criteria with their exclusion from the games being just the incentive they’ve needed to stimulate big changes to the sport. Wrestling has started their own bid campaign labelled #TakeAStance which has coincided with major changes to rules, distribution of events and leadership changes. With backing from major figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and the uniting of the USA and Iran for the campaign, wrestling now appears a strong favourite for inclusion. Despite lacking the political support that Wrestling has, Squash has still found many supporters, especially in the sport community with the likes of tennis superstars Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Andre Agassi, Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki backing the bid, not to mention our very own All Blacks.
With the IOC keeping their cards close to their chests, the decision is certainly not a forgone conclusion and Squash still has everything to play for going into the final days of decision making. With the lure of a new sport and the backing of many a famous sports star lets hope it's game and match to Squash and not another let decision further delaying Squash's inclusion to the Olympic Games.
For more information about the bid check out the Squash 2020 website.