International Olympic Committee

IOC officials watch women's squash semis, but rain forces men indoors

Wet weather forces change in venue after assessors catch only the women's semi-finals

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 4:27am

With two International Olympic Committee programme commissioners in the city to evaluate squash's bid to be included at the 2020 Games, the rain could not have come at a worse time.

Only the women's semi-finals of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open were completed at the outdoor court in Tsim Sha Tsui before the heavens opened up and forced organisers to relocate the men's matches to the Hong Kong Squash Centre in Admiralty.

The two IOC commissioners, Walter Sieber and Hannah Burns, did not head across the harbour for the men's semi-finals and but will attend today's finals.

Neither commissioner would speak to reporters, but they did meet the players, including world No1 Nicol David, who breezed into today's women's final with a 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 victory against the Netherlands' Natalie Grinham in 40 minutes.

"There are still two presentations before the final meeting [in Argentina next September], one in May and the other one next month. If the World Squash Federation needs my help to present the sport to the IOC, I would be honoured and always ready to assist them," said David, who will meet Camille Serme in today's final after the Frenchwoman beat Egypt's Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-9, 4-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6.

"It was nice to be introduced to [the commissioners]," David added. "They wanted to know more about the sport, even how I train and what my diet is. Hopefully, I made a good impression."

Narayana Ramachandran, president of the World Squash Federation, said: "When the IOC asked which tournament the commissioners should attend, we immediately said Hong Kong. We are really proud of this tournament. It gets better every year."

Ramachandran added that squash was an ideal fit for the Olympics. "In the past, TV audiences couldn't see the ball clearly but now with high definition broadcasting, that problem has been solved," he said. "Even more important, squash is doing well in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games."

The other sports vying for a berth are baseball, softball, karate, wakeboarding, wushu, roller sports and sport climbing. Only one sport will be picked.

Meanwhile back at Admiralty, James Willstrop from England beat Karim Darwish from Egypt 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 and will take on Ramy Ashour in the men's final after the Egyptian defeated England's Nick Matthew 11-9, 11-9, 13-11.