Hong Kong keen to impress IOC so sqaush is admitted to Olympics
A glamorous show is on the cards for next month's Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open as the game's governing body tries to convince the International Olympic Committee that the sport should be admitted into the 2020 Olympics.
"We have big plans for a high-profile tournament, especially on the last two days when two IOC officials will be here to watch and evaluate our bid to become an Olympic sport," said Heather Deayton, vice-president of the World Squash Federation, at yesterday's draw for the annual tournament, which will feature the world's leading men's and women's players.
Deayton, who is based in Hong Kong and was formerly a long-serving official with the local governing body of the game, said Hong Kong would have to make a lasting impression on the IOC delegation, which will include a member of its sports programme commission, during the visit.
"They will be here for the semi-finals and final and this will be played outdoors as in the past few years outside the Tsim Sha Tsui Cultural Centre. I'm confident we can put on a good show, especially with the backdrop of the harbour at night," Deayton said.
Squash is up against baseball, softball, karate, wakeboarding, wushu, rollersports and sport climbing, all vying for one berth at the 2020 Olympics.
The decision will be known next September when the IOC convenes in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
"But we should know before that, in May, as the IOC executive board will recommend which sport should be included and this decision is normally rubber-stamped by the IOC congress," Deayton said.
"We are confident of our chances. The sport has come a long way in recent times, especially improved as a TV sport and we are hopeful of making it."
One of the richest events on the world calendar, the early rounds of the US$150,000 tournament from November 25-December 2 will be played at the Hong Kong Squash Centre. World champion and world No 1 Nicol David of Malaysia will headline the women's field.