September 25, 2013 3:18 pm /News /9 Comments

World #4 and reigning British Champion Alison Waters on the recent Olympics 2020 vote:

Was it a surprise that squash didn’t get into the 2020 Olympics ? Deep down I wasn’t that surprised. Very disappointed but not surprised.

As soon as Wrestling was taken out it was immediately the favourite to go straight back in. This seems absolutely crazy to me. How can a sport taken out only six months ago because it lacked women’s categories and needed the rule format changed to make it more viewer friendly change in that short a time.

Squash has been campaigning for the last few years to get into the Olympics. We missed out last time to golf and rugby seven and the time before we missed out on the majority vote rule which is no longer in place. What do we have to do to show the IOC we deserve to be there? We are a fast paced exciting sport played worldwide and it’s amazing to watch live and on television.

For any squash player to play in the Olympics would be the pinnacle of our careers. Surely this is what the whole ethics of the Olympics is. Would Tiger Woods rather win a gold medal at the Olympics or a golfing major? Would Andy Murray rather win a gold medal at the Olympics or win Wimbledon? For a squash player winning a gold medal would be the ultimate achievement.

Where does squash go from here? We all know that squash is an amazing sport, we have a healthy worldwide circuit and we will keep pushing forward and adapting and changing to the times. We deserve to be in the Olympics but it feels like we are not just competing against other sports to get in but we are competing against the IOC. I think they need to take a good look at the system and take a piece of their own advice and change with the times.

Too much goes on ‘behind the scenes’ which is the only way we can understand how squash hasn’t got in again.

We feel cheated by the IOC and surely they should be accountable for the time/ effort/ money that squash has put in when deep down they knew that squash and the other sports had no chance of getting in. Wrestling was a dead cert from as soon as they were taken out.

Is this the world that we live in now? A corrupt, unfair and unjust system?

If so then shame on you the IOC, shame on you …


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9 thoughts on “Alison Waters: The Olympic Decision

  1. Daniel Massaro
    September 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Alison, you couldn’t have summed it up any better than how you have. It is a complete farcical situation and all those you talk to from different walks of life intuitively and intellectually know so.

    The IOC like FIFA are too self serving just like most capitalist businesses. Starbucks are the same but the difference is they would admit it and not dress up as an idealistic / moral governing group like many many sports governing institutions do. The IOC are accountable to no one unfortunately. To see Ramy and Fitz have to step up there being genuine and humble when we all knew it was “Wrestling” back in for dirty cash, was upsetting and had a sense of humiliation about it.

    The IOC feels to me like how things were ruled in Roman times. Let’s see what mood this next “Emporer” happens to be in eh? I can’t see the current begging strategy working where we can’t speak our true feelings. We need more of a thrust than “we won’t take up much space or cost you much more of your time and money!” “We’ve done everything you’ve asked us, please let us in!!!”

    We must be more aggressive surely by using the media and highlighting what they did the day they reinstated wrestling and turned down Squash.

    Not much of a solution I know, but we would maintain our dignity and self respect as a sport. After all the Romans ruled for over 500 years.

    Ps: I thought the effort of all the squash bidding team was exemplary on skill and effort.

    Danny Massaro

  2. Squasher1
    September 25, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    To be honest, I’m not sure why there is so much confusion as to why wrestling was selected for re-entry. It is widely considered to be a staple in the Olympic circuit and is a core Olympic sport. Its problems were easy fixes, and were duly done.

    With respect to the IOC, yes – they do not hold the Olympic ideal close to heart. This was quite evident when Golf was selected.

    This is where the blame on someone else stops. We all recognize the corruption, yet was that recognition factored in our 2020 strategy? I am tired of hearing squash players talk about Olympic ideals. These are irrelevant for the IOC and, from a marketing strategy viewpoint, our emphasis on these attributes were idiotic. The whining about the rules not being fair needs to stop if we are to ever really craft a strategy that will get us inclusion. Consider:

    1) Squash is still seen as an elite, rich people, preppy sport, played in clubs that require all-white dress code. That is the perception, and I really am not interested in people citing XYZ examples where that’s not the case. This is what I have observed about people’s perception.
    2) Squash is still unknown to the masses. The average person either doesn’t know what Squash is or are likely to confuse it with Racquetball. The physical demands are unrelatable to an average person.
    3) There is virtually no TV coverage of squash. I see Darts on TV, more times than I see squash.
    4) Our campaigning in countries like Peru is not going to influence the IOC panel (and no offense to Peru). We need the support of the US, Russia, China, etc.
    5) Player conduct – grotesque at times. Arguing with the referees, wasting time between points wiping your hands on the wall? These are things that an average person observes. Sad that our kids are now following the Pros and wiping their hands between points; sad that coaches are telling kids to do this.
    6) We do not have a ‘Grand Slam’ circuit. Observe that the British Open, one of the top 2 squash events in the world (the other being the World Open), wasn’t even hosted in 2010-11. What type of world-class sport is unable to have a flagship tournament 2 years in a row? And, the fact that we were unable to secure sponsorship for such a prestigious event should have been a reality-check for us.
    7) It is still an expensive sport to play. We should have been investing in ways to make cheaper courts and cheaper racquets, if only to enable people to play it.
    8) We have done a poor job selling to the IOC – all we have said was “Why Squash needs the Olympics”, never “Why the Olympics needs squash”. It’s not because of its power, strength, skill, mental toughness, supreme fitness or strategy – these things are a basic requirement in some form or fashion. What do we bring that’s truly unique? Aren’t there enough racquet sports included? Now, before someone says something stupid, being the outsider makes the bar for entry even tougher; what was good enough for tennis or badminton or table tennis to be admitted into the Olympics, is not good enough for us. The bar has been raised.
    9) Desperation – our marketing job has come across, at times, as desperate. What does it say about the value of a World Title if Nicol David would trade 6 of them for an Olympic Gold? Again, see point 8 above.

    As a sport, we have demonstrated little ROI for the IOC. We have not demonstrated that we have sellout crowds, marketing sponsorship demand exceeding supply, etc.

    At some point, I think we need to grow up and start understanding that the Olympics is a very big business, and we have to market our product accordingly. And to be self-aware enough to realize that we are still a small-market sport, and we have not evolved to the state required for the IOC to take us seriously.

    In the end though, I don’t believe that Olympic inclusion would create any significant advancement for our sport apart from offering the Pros the chance to medal for their countries…

  3. Sng Liang Ming Edmond
    September 26, 2013 at 3:16 am

    So what now. ?????? point well said ….. so forgot the Olympics and start pulling in Sponsors and bring in the Moolah. End of the day Money Talks and nothing else.


  4. GermanSquasher
    September 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    as a sidenote to the comment of “Squasher1″: At least here in Germany Squash isn’t – and never was – “an elite, rich people, preppy sport, played in clubs that require all-white dress code” – not at all. And it isn’t exceptionally expensive either.
    It was all the rage in the 80s with lots of Squash venuesopening up. Since then it was all downhill.
    Yes, we are now faced with a situation where the younger generation not even knows what Squash is – due to lack of media coverage and/or a coolness factor.

  5. September 27, 2013 at 12:09 am

    The blame game never works. I agree with Alison, but unless we hold ourselves accountable we don’t deserve to be in the games. We need to get in the vibration of the People Controlling the Games. And if and when we put them down in any form, trust me when I say, they are taking note.

    Hey, I’m all for squash getting in. But I believe Alison did sum it up as Danny pointed out. Only it was a deep subconscious point. “Deep down I wasn’t that surprised. Very disappointed but not surprised.” Here she explains, possibly unknowingly, that her subconscious (and I would take a chance guess that her feelings of deep down emotional charge would of been similar around the globe with almost all squash enthusiasts alike) didn’t truly believe we would get the nod.

    Squasher1 is pretty on target. The Games is a business. And a big one at that. We did not employ the minds of billionaires to the forward thinking that the people running the biggest event on the planet are in “tune” with. Did I see any “Street Squash” (for underprivileged kids) in the promo ads? The giving back that squash does? Many times the seats to early rounds to even the biggest events are mostly available and open to schools, etc… The games needs to see sold out audiences! This is a BUSINESS.

    In order to “win them over” we have to think, breath, live and believe what they believe. Then deliver what they are looking for. We have been unfortunately seeking a birth for squash, instead of seeking a child who will grow for the GAMES.

    My experience and suggestions (as I have sent several recommendations to the WSF over the last 2 years leading up to the selection) is to move in the direction with recommendations of billionaires and people who understand how, why and what the games really is looking for. And in the right order. No use having a combination for a lock and inserting the numbers in the wrong order. It’s obvious so far we have not touched on it. My mentors have been all multi millionaires and billionaires. My last client yesterday works for a company probably no one has heard of and rakes in a cool US$22 billon a year. Yes, billion with a B. And their only primary objection, DO MORE, THE RIGHT WAY. My personal business coach and mentor sold over US$5 billion. They simply think and do things differently than the rest of us. Everything we think we are doing correctly to promote squash they have tweaked thousands of times over. Last week in just a few days I got over 18,000 people to visit one of my sites. Squash needs to do more of that on a regular basis to the masses of general public.

    We just don’t get it. And unless we get the right help (in a timely manner) we are just going to get passed around from submission to submission. It’s not cheap, but I love the saying, “you get what you pay for.” Not always true and accurate, but most times on point.

    Of course it can be done. Other sports have succeeded. So can squash.

  6. September 27, 2013 at 5:53 am

    I would agree with sqausher1. I am sure they tried very hard to get in, but it seemed to me the whole holding-the-sign thing was a bit amateurish. I think the reality is at this point that there is no “olympic ideals” other than what makes money. Squash is not good as a revenue generation sport. Teaching pros in golf get $100/hour or more for a lesson, squash professionals in many places have difficulty charging $35. Not enough demand, not enough exposure, not enough money, not enough political connections, and not enough BRIBES (oops, I didn’t say that). Don’t convince Roger Federer to support squash, convince Juan Antonio Samaranch’s son to take up the game. If he can convince the IOC to oust wrestling in favour of Modern Pentathlon, surely he can get squash in.

    The only way to get into the olympics is to make everything about the marketing and participation of the sport so strong that they cannot keep squash out even if they wanted to.

  7. September 27, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Finally someone making sense Squasher1 maybe you should be running the WSF or PSA or WISPA. It still boggles me how Squash was expecting to be entered in the Olympics when they don’t even have a women’s world open for 2013 yet. Speaking on IOC corruption I am sure there is plenty of corruption within Squash also. I leave it to you Squasher1 you said all on point and anyone who disagrees with any of your points is obviously biased or does not want to admit how week the Squash campaign was. Squash does need to hire “qualified” people internally to run the show not to be constantly outsourcing services with minimal follow up. And squash players need to stop being asked about their opinion they hurt the case more than anything they should just focus on playing the game or hire qualified publicists to speak on their behalf, because the stuff they say is way too biased and no one relates to what they say unless you are part of the tiny tiny tiny closed community. So who is going to be first to disagree?!

  8. Jason
    September 28, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I reckon it’s all very well re-instating wrestling, but I’d like someone from the Olympic movement to ask squash to not bid again. Instead they should prepare a presentation as to why squash ISN’T in the Olympics.

    Instead we once again find ourselves in the most ridiculous situation of not having this superb sport in the biggest (multi-sport) games on the planet.

    And this situation makes the Olympic Federation look ridiculous in my eyes.

  9. Double-dot
    September 29, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Squasher1 has very good points indeed. And after reading all those posts, the main denominator is money. What I am afraid of is once the big shots start to dictate how squash should be run, are we not going to held hostage? We know all too well how dirty some sports has become when large money starts to flow in, and it is not always for the good of the sport itself. At least at this point, squash has some autonomy and keep the sport clean (on and off the court) and accessible to all. I do not see the emergency of becoming an Olympic sport, and sell the soul to the billionaires…

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