Should squash be included in the Olympics?

Squash has a wide reach

Squash is played by many countries

Squash has been sidelined for quite a while from the Olympic Games. Athletes from more than 185 countries play the sport and the popularity is only increasing. However, the dream of seeing Squash as part of the Olympic games still remains elusive.

The sport was shortlisted in a bid for its inclusion for the 2020 Tokyo Games along with Wrestling and baseball-softball. Wrestling was reinstated after it got 49 votes. baseball –softball and squash received 24 and 22 votes respectively. There has been criticism from some quarters about squash not being a TV friendly sport. People from across the world have enjoyed it in front of their TVs and in flesh at the stadium.

What the sport needs is more marketing of its champions and the world needs to know that there is always intense competition at the highest levels. While other racket sports – badminton and tennis are part of the games, squash excluded for being just another racket sport cannot be taken as a justification. Squash has been a regular at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, but the International Olympic Council (IOC) is reluctant to accept it as part of the biggest event in sport.

Support from all quarters

Nicol David

There has been tremendous support from sportspersons not just related to squash for its inclusion at the Olympics. Women’s World No. 1 Nicol David is still hopeful of the sport making it to the Olympics. "I'm 31 now and if I take care of myself physically, I should be able to make it. It would be a dream come true to represent my country at the Olympics," David said. She said she was expecting good things for the sport under new IOC president Thomas Bach.

Squash was voted as the world’s healthiest sport by Forbes magazine. Indian squash players Dipika Pallikal and Saurav Ghosal were gutted at the sport’s non-inclusion for the Tokyo Games."It is very disappointing to have missed out again. I am gutted. We have evolved as a sport and everyone out there knows that we deserved to be in the Olympics," Pallikal said.

"We can hold our heads high after what we have done to get squash where it is in the last four years. We are not losing anything, the Olympics is losing out on not having the sport in its programme. People talk about having global icons in wrestling and I don't even know one. Whereas most people know about World No.1 Nicol David. It is disheartening that we are not there when we know we deserve to be there. We have a great sport, great federation and great tour," she added.

Silver medallist at the recently concluded Asian Games Saurav Ghosal was disappointed at the sport’s ouster from the games.

“We are all very sad. Squash presented a great bid and sad it didn't make it. Wrestling was favourite from all reports I have been reading. So they always had a good chance. I am sad also because it (squash in Olympics) would have provided a huge boost to Indian squash, “ Ghosal said.

Roger Federer endorses squash in Olympics

Roger Federer backs the bid for Squash’s inclusion in 2020 Tokyo Games

Tennis legend Roger Federer also backed Squash’s bid for the 2020 Olympics. "I think it's a wonderful sport. It's unfortunate some sports don't get the opportunity to be in the Olympics. I think squash would deserve it. They run a great tour and they have great players and characters. I'd personally be very happy for them, “ Federer said.

The sport’s inclusion in the greatest event of the world will only encourage youngsters to take up the sport in numbers as winning a gold medal in any sport at the Olympics is a pinnacle for any sportsperson.

Words form Vice- president

World Squash Federation vice-president Heather Deayton is still positive about Squash’s chances at the games.

"We have not given up hope. In fact, we have our fingers crossed squash will still be played at the 2020 Olympics now the IOC is looking at ways to increase the medal sports, while reducing the number of disciplines in those existing sports," said Deayton.

The 14 working groups presented their findings to the IOC executive board in July.The proposals will now go to IOC commissions next month and the executive board in October. Final recommendations will be put to the full IOC at a special assembly in Monaco in December.

"We will know then if we still have a chance. I'm very hopeful," Deayton said.

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