British Parliamentarian Pushes To Have Squash Added to Olympic Program

Amid Brexit concerns and terror threats, one British Parliamentarian has taken it upon herself to get the sport of Squash into the Olympic Games.

Hong Kong Open squash court at the Cultural Centre Piazza
Hong Kong Open squash court at the Cultural Centre Piazza

According to World Squash News, the MP for Neath in Wales and former Welsh squash number one Christina Rees has published the paper Squash and the Olympic Games and opened the topic for debate in the UK Houses of Parliament Tuesday.

Squash has been vying for a spot in the Games for several years based on the sport’s world-wide popularity and compact, low-cost sustainable venue requirement.

Squash missed the short-list cut for the 2020 Olympic Games that now instead includes baseball/softball, climbing, karate, surfing and skateboard.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will likely add all five of these new sports to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program at its Session in Rio later this month.

Under new IOC rules, however, each host city will have the opportunity to introduce additional sports to their programs as long as they fit IOC requirements and are approved by the members.  Squash is looking forward to an opportunity in 2024.

Rees said to Parliament “The host for 2024 will be decided in 2017.  The front-runner appears to be Los Angeles, but we have no idea whether there will be any space for new sports.  Squash would be inexpensive to introduce, with men’s and women’s singles draws of 32 each.”

“Many people are surprised to learn that squash is not an Olympic sport, they assume that it has been in the Olympics for many years.

squash_514643123.jpg“Squash is gladiatorial, dynamic, physically demanding and mentally challenging; it is like chess on legs. It teaches players strategy, tactics and how to outmaneuver an opponent, so it is an ideal grounding for a political career.”

World Squash Federation (WSF) President N Ramachandran said  “it’s good to know that our case to try to secure a place for squash on the Olympic Games programme is being made at parliamentary level.”

“We continue to believe that squash is a great fit for the Olympics and dream of the time when the Games could become the pinnacle aspiration for all our athletes.”

Ramachandran was criticized last year when Squash was snubbed by the Tokyo sports evaluation committee.

In September he said “after our 12-year journey to join the Olympic Games program, and the opportunity of a ‘second chance’ after the heart-break of missing out in our first 2020 bid in Buenos Aires two years ago, I am utterly devastated on behalf of our great sport that our dream of taking part in the Tokyo Games cannot now be realised”

“I don’t believe we could have done more to get our message across to both the Tokyo 2020 Games hosts and the IOC of how Squash could bring something special as an addition to the Program.”

The host of the 2024 Olympic Games will be elected September 2017 from among Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome.  Any potential new sports for the program will likely be added in 2020.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.