Squash’s Olympic Campaign: Will It Mean More Courts?

Squash has been attempting to gain Olympic inclusion for some time, having been rejected for London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Now, the sport’s proponents are hoping the city of romance will be the right match, and the World Squash Federation (WSF) and the Professional Squash Association (PSA) have made it official, launching a new campaign video. The theme is “Squash Goes Gold” and the video can be found here.

Squash has long sought inclusion in the Olympics and it has its sights set on Paris for 2024. Since the inception of the IOC’s Agenda 2020, each host city is allowed to hand-pick some sports to be featured on the Olympic program. And this time around, squash has an in: the president of the World Squash Federation (WSF), Jacques Fontaine, is Parisian, and has made it clear in no uncertain terms that he intends to campaign for the sport’s inclusion in 2024 on his home turf.

In one WSF bulletin, Fontaine wrote, “As WSF President, I will use every opportunity at my disposal at home and internationally to push for squash to be part of the Paris edition. Squash is united behind our dream at every level, and essentially, we have full collaboration with Professional Squash Association to jointly make our bid.”

The sport, though popular worldwide, has received an extra infusion of energy with announcement of the campaign, he notes.

“Squash is played in some of the most spectacular locations in the world – in front of the Pyramids of Giza, on the harborside-front in Hong Kong, inside Grand Central Terminal in New York – and our ability to showcase the beauty, youth and innovative drive of Paris by setting up an all-glass court anywhere in the city is something few sports can do. Squash Goes Gold will allow the squash community to further unite behind our Olympic campaign and play their active part in helping our sport secure its place at the Olympic Games.”

PSA chief executive Alex Gough claimed an Olympic gold medal “would be the pinnacle” for any squash player.

Unfortunately, squash has a history of being an also-ran when it comes to the Olympics, after being left out of the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Games.

Paris 2024 organizers are expected to make recommendations for new sports before the International Olympic Committee Executive Board meets in Lausanne, Switzerland, in late March. The IOC Session in June will then give provisional approval before new additions are officially confirmed by the Executive Board in December 2020.

The inclusion of squash in the Games could mean more courts in health clubs and colleges – provided the sport catches on. However, the worldwide growth of a sport is not necessarily tied to the Olympics. And a sport’s inclusion because the host city selects it does not guarantee it will be present in the next Games. For example, baseball and softball will appear in 2020 in Tokyo but it is doubtful they will be included in Paris in 2024 since neither sport has a following in that country.

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