Tokyo 2020 May be Ready to Showcase Rejected Sport of Squash
27 Jan, 2016By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Maybe the fourth time is the charm. Maybe.
Squash, which has been trying unsuccessfully since 2005 to become part of the Olympics, now may be ‘showcased’ at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
And after three failed bids, it’s welcome news for the sport that, despite its worldwide following, has been marginalized by the IOC.
Inside the Games reported that in the January/February issue of the World Squash Federation’s (WSF) newsletter, President N. Ramachandran wrote that he had received positive indications during recent discussions with key International Olympic Committee members.
The sport could feature in the Japanese capital as part of a so-called ‘sports lab’ or demonstration of non-Olympic sports, such as the one at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics where disciplines such as skateboarding were demonstrated.
Squash has certainly waited its turn. A "voting technicality" was cited as the reason for the sport’s rejection at the IOC session in Singapore in 2005, when a two-thirds majority was needed for inclusion rather than a simple majority, something both squash and karate failed to secure.
Four years later, squash narrowly lost out to rugby sevens and golf for inclusion in Rio in 2016.
In 2013, it was shortlisted as a "new" sport ahead of rock climbing, karate and roller sports, but became a political football, when the IOC reintroduced the previously axed wrestling for Tokyo 2020. (Bowling and wushu also had been short-listed for inclusion in Tokyo but were left off the final recommended list, according to an article in Yahoo! News.)
Listen carefully and you can hear squash enthusiasts grinding their teeth.
Of course, no hard and fast promises are being made about squash in Tokyo, either, but a glimmer of hope seems to be better than none. Despite the fact that squash was not selected by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, the IOC’s Agenda 2020 has highlighted the importance of having sports labs. And according to Ramachandran, the opportunities for showcasing and promoting a variety of additional sports remain on the table – and “the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee has confirmed that they would appreciate having the chance to discuss these with squash.”
Of course, if it is to be successful, squash needs to present an organized front. The WSF’s Ramachandran was described by the Professional Squash Association as 'an embarrassment to the sport' following September's rejection by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.
A coalition of National Federations subsequently proposed the formation of a Task Force in partnership with the PSA which would promote the sport independently of the WSF.