Squash officials refuse to give up on their Olympic dream

World SquashFederation vice-president Heather Deayton says they are encouraged by IOC chief Thomas Bach's move to adjust Games roster

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 10:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 10:08pm

Squash hasn't given up hope of being included at the 2020 Olympics with top official Heather Deayton encouraged by IOC president Thomas Bach's moves to add flexibility to the sports programme for the Tokyo 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, World Squash Federation vice-president.

Squash lost its bid to become an Olympic sport at last September's IOC general assembly in Buenos Aires when members voted to reinstate wrestling, which received a majority of 49 votes, followed by a joint bid by baseball and softball (24 votes) and squash (22).

But hopes have been renewed with Bach wanting to put in place a new road map for the Olympic movement and has received feedback from 14 working groups created to discuss his recommendations for Olympic Agenda 2020, his strategic blueprint for the future.

The working groups comprised members from the IOC, athletes, representatives from the international federations, national Olympic committees and outside experts. Apart from looking at ways to reduce costs of staging Games, these groups also looked at proposals to increase the number of sports from the existing 28.

We have our fingers crossed squash will still be played at the 2020 Olympics
World Squash Federation vice-president Heather Deayton

"We are very encouraged by this as we believe Bach wants more sports at the Olympics. The issue is he doesn't want to increase the number of athletes, keeping the cap at around 10,000 for the Summer Games, rather hoping to make room by reducing the number of disciplines in other sports," said the Hong Kong-based Deayton.

Malaysian world number one Nicol David, who is chasing a 10th straight title at this week's Hong Kong Open, said: "I have heard there is still a chance squash will be played at the 2020 Olympics and if that is the case, I would love to be in it.

"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.

Squash is played in more than 185 countries around the world with more than 70 countries registered on the men's and women's squash tours. It was recently voted as the world's healthiest sport by Forbes magazine.

The 14 working groups presented a broad outline of 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.