Nearly 20,000 billiards fans have signed an online petition for the sports inclusion in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, bolstered by the backing of all major world federations but facing stiff competition from other disciplines. Organisers of the campaign, Billiards 2024, are hoping to have more than 25,000 signatures through the change.org petition website in a quest to convince Paris and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to embrace billiards at the Games in five years’ time. “Support is really growing fast,” Billiards 2024 coordinator Jean-Pierre Guiraud told the South China Morning Post . “We have 137 nations represented in the signatures and we want to reach more than 25,000. “But it is only a step. Before convincing the IOC, we need to convince COJO Paris 2024 [the Paris Games organising committee]. But more than the numbers, the most important thing is to prove we have the support of the whole world.” Last month, the heads of all major billiards sports bodies made a joint announcement at the Eiffel Tower in Paris of solidarity for the Olympic cause, with Frenchman Guiraud appointed to head the bid. Guiraud was joined by Ian Anderson (World Confederation of Billiards Sports), Fernando Requena (Union Mondiale de Billard), Nigel Mawer (World Professional Billiard and Snooker Association) and Jean-Paul Sinanian (Fédération Française de Billard). They are proposing separate men’s and women’s team competitions for the Paris Olympics, with each squad comprising one snooker player, one 9-ball player and one carom (three-cushion) player. A tournament using the proposed Olympic format will be held on March 11 and 12 in Paris featuring 12 men and 12 women. “Billiards is a universal sport, which is played in all countries and is accessible to everyone, without limiting gender, age or physical elements. Not many sports can say that,” said Guiraud. “Billiards has a soul and a rich history, especially in France, where it was successively a game for kings, a leisure activity and now a popular sport. We have important assets in our hands. “The infrastructure needed for the competition at the Olympic Games is cheap compared to other candidates, which is in line with recent IOC recommendations.” As host, COJO is allowed to have influence over what new sports enter the Games and may give priority to the traditional French discipline of boules, which is similar to lawn bowls. Also keen for Olympic inclusion is squash, while team sports such as baseball and softball will return to the fold in Tokyo 2024 but without any guarantees they would be accepted in Paris. The IOC is looking to restrict the number of athletes at the Olympics, which may favour billiards because each country would only field six players at the most – three men and three women. “The number of players we have in countries like China and India is just astounding, and then we have the massive numbers from other Asian, African, European, and South American countries,” said Anderson. “It would be a surprise if there is a country anywhere in the world where billiards in some form or another is not being played.” Should billiards become an Olympic sport, Hong Kong would be among the favourites, especially in the women’s competition. The city boasts the number one player in the world in Ng On-yee, who would be 33 years old in the summer of 2024, and she is joined by at least a dozen other Hong Kong players in the top 50. On the men’s side, youngsters Robbie Capito and Leo Yip are among the best in the world in their age group, while snooker player Marco Fu Ka-chun is still going strong in his 40s.