WSF welcomes Bach’s ‘openness’ on Olympic programme but won’t be drawn over opportunity for squash
By Callum Murray, published on Sport Cal
The World Squash Federation today welcomed an “openness towards evolution of the Games Programme” displayed by Thomas Bach, the new International Olympic Committee president, while stopping short of saying that Bach’s apparent willingness to reconsider the inclusion of baseball and softball on the 2020 games programme could present an opportunity for squash as well.
Yesterday it emerged that baseball and softball could, after all, have a chance of returning to the 2020 programme after finishing second to wrestling in a controversial ballot at the IOC’s Session in September for a single available slot on the programme. Squash finished third.
Speaking in Tokyo, the 2020 Olympics host city, yesterday, Bach spoke of the need to be “flexible” over the programme, saying:
“This will be under discussion. We will have the first broad discussion in December in a meeting of the executive board of the IOC, then the executive board will present its first discussion paper to the IOC Session in Sochi.
“Personally I am open to more flexibility in the programme for the Olympic Games, but we must see what my colleagues are thinking about this.”
Asked by Sportcal whether Bach’s remarks also present an opportunity for squash, and whether this was something the WSF would be taking up with the IOC, the federation replied with a careful statement from N Ramachandran, its president, saying:
“We are very pleased that there is an openness towards evolution of the Games Programme.
“We would not wish to comment further until we have had the opportunity to attend planned meetings, but we are grateful that the IOC accorded us the opportunity of being considered as the only new sport at the IOC Congress in September and know that we are in their thoughts.”
Ahead of his election in September, Bach said that he was in favour of refreshing the Olympic programme, bringing in new sports at the expense of some of the additional disciplines enjoyed by some of the current sports. The limit of 10,500 athletes should, he believes, be maintained, however.
Baseball and softball were part of the Olympic programme until the 2008 games in Beijing, but were dropped from the programme for London 2012 and were unsuccessful with bids to return for both the 2016 and 2020 games, despite creating a new joint international federation, the International Baseball Softball Confederation, as part of their commitment to the 2020 bid.
Squash has never been on the Olympic programme.