A Squash delegation that includes women’s world number one Nicol David and men’s world number one Ramy Ashour, today arrived in St Petersburg ahead of a crucial presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board, where the sport will make its case to join the 2020 Olympic Games Programme.
The IOC Executive Board is expected to reduce the current list of eight sports bidding to join the 2020 Games following presentations on 29 May.
World Squash Federation President N Ramachandran, who leads Squash’s presentation team, said: “This is a significant milestone in our quest to join the Olympic Programme and I am delighted that our presentation team includes the women’s and men’s world number ones and current World Champions. It is crucial that we show the IOC Executive Board that we have the absolute commitment of our leading players and having Nicol and Ramy with us says so much.
“An important theme of our presentation will be the scale and breadth of innovations that Squash has introduced over the last few years. These include all glass courts, professional sports presentation, referee video review and the latest broadcast techniques such as multiple camera angles, Super Slow Mo replay and our plans to introduce Super HD. Indeed, our innovation has probably been the most dramatic in the way Squash is now broadcast and presented.
“We will also be stressing the global reach of Squash. It is played in 185 countries by millions across the world, is growing in countries as diverse as Paraguay, India, Egypt and the United States – where we have almost one million players – and order books of court manufacturers are the fullest they have ever been.
“Squash also offers genuine medal opportunities to a growing number of countries and the prospect of new nations on the medal podium. Just look at the current Women’s top 20 which feature 11 countries, and the fact that all five continental confederations have produced both male and female world champions, as proof of this.”
Malaysia’s seven time world champion Nicol David, said: “I’m delighted to be here and play my part in what is an incredibly important moment for Squash. For so long I have dreamed of competing in the Olympic Games – so to be here, presenting to the IOC Executive Board, is a true honour. I just want to show how much competing in the Games would mean to me, as well as every single player on our tours. I’m also particularly proud of the strength and professionalism of our Women’s tour, and of female participation in the management of our sport.
“The one big regret in my career is that I have never had the chance to compete in the Olympic Games. I’m 29 years old but I still think I could play at the very top level in 2020 and I would happily trade my seven world titles for the chance of Olympic Gold. My own country, Malaysia, has never won Gold at the Games and if I can stay healthy, and of course with the support of the IOC, perhaps I can try to make Olympic history for Malaysia in 2020.”
Egypt’s Ramy Ashour added: “It’s fantastic for Nicol and me to be part of the presentation team and to represent the Men’s and Women’s professional Squash tours. Squash has had a profound impact on many thousands of Egyptians, and it enjoys a popularity surpassed only by soccer in my country. It is played not just in Cairo but right across Egypt, by all ages – in fact, Egypt are women’s and men’s world senior and junior team champions, and the sport has given Egyptians a sense of pride over the past few, difficult years.
“Squash reflects the essence of Olympic sport – it’s gladiatorial, physically demanding and mentally challenging. It’s a true sport, and already played in every major multi sport games – including the Asian, Commonwealth, Pan Am and World Games.
“I’m only 25 but in my time competing on the Men’s Tour and international events, I know that our sport has been on a journey. And I really do hope and pray that this journey leads me to the Olympic Games in 2020, where I can make my country proud and win Gold for Egypt.”
President Ramachandran added: “Squash would also be easy and low cost to integrate into the Olympic Games with just 64 athletes, and two competition courts that can be built in a few days. We could share a venue or it could take place in an iconic location, and our sport has a great track record of doing exactly that.
“In fact, just last week the British Open took place in a Premier League soccer stadium. Scoring is simple in Squash, matches are short and positions are decided on court, not by judges’ scores. We will be doing our best to bring all these elements to life in our presentation.”
The final decision on which sport will join the 2020 Olympic Programme will be made by the IOC membership at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires on 8 September 2013.
NOTE: Squash is proposing a knock-out format men’s and women’s singles championships for inclusion in the Olympic Games. It would comprise 32 male and 32 female players.