Squash players past and present have reacted with a sense of bewilderment after the sport was excluded from the list of additional events proposed for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Former World Champion Nick Matthew was among the most vociferous in his condemnation of the decision to leave out squash in favour of breakdancing, climbing, skateboarding and surfing.
Matthew told The Daily Telegraph it was a devastating blow for squash, adding: “We should have been part of the Olympic movement years ago, certainly from London 2012. It’s very frustrating and I don’t see anything that will change if we carry on doing the same things. Sports are being pulled from left field now.”
Explaining the decision to include breakdancing, Paris 2024 said it was an “urban, universal and popular sport with more than a million B-Boys and B-Girls in France”. Local organisers must submit the recommended list to the IOC, which will make a decision in December 2020, following the Tokyo Games.
Matthew said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would owe squash an apology if it approves the proposals, claiming he believed the sport had ticked all the boxes required for inclusion in Paris. “Skateboarding didn’t even have a national governing body when it was chosen as an Olympic sport. It shows a massive disconnect from the IOC on the actual infrastructure of the sport. It has to be made accountable.
“It seems like there is this criteria, it has to be the pinnacle, governed in the right manner, gender equality and good anti-doping, truly global. All these things squash has, and we have improved.”
Many other players took to social media to voice their frustrations. World No2 Ali Farag, who is heading to Chicago for the PSA World Championships, said on Twitter: “Go breakdance while we play a One Million Dollar Tournament of the best sport in the world!’’
His sentiments were echoed by US No1 Amanda Sobhy who shared a Gif on Twitter with the comment: “Time for me to work on my breakdancing skills.’’
I just can’t believe it 😪 hope it’s not over and we can still fight for squash because Squash really needs it compare to others sport !! Everyone has to help please 🙏
— Gregoire Marche (@GregMarche) February 21, 2019
France’s Gregoire Marche – denied the chance to play in a home Olympics – said: “I just can’t believe it hope it’s not over and we can still fight for squash because Squash really needs it compare to others sport !! Everyone has to help please.’’
Greg Lobban felt the sport had been badly let down. “Squash has met the supposed “criteria” for an Olympic sport for many years now but sadly the system to include new sports in the Olympics programme seems flawed.…
“However I refuse to say or believe that “this is a sad day for squash”. The PSA World Tour is thriving at the minute with our first million dollar tournament taking place this week and reaching new audiences all the time thanks to SquashTV and Facebook. Let’s crack on!’’
Keir Worth, head of England Squash, said: “It is particularly heartbreaking for the talented young players from around the world that will miss out on the chance to showcase their talent, hard work and athleticism on the biggest stage in sport.”
Squash will again miss out on Olympic inclusion. We need to make squash the greatest non Olympic sport there is (probably already is though!). Use it to our advantage and make squash a mainstream sport, then politely decline when finally asked to become an Olympic sport! https://t.co/XvMC0SAi1v
— Cameron Pilley (@campilley) February 21, 2019
And Australia’s Cameron Pilley said: “Squash will again miss out on Olympic inclusion. We need to make squash the greatest non Olympic sport there is (probably already is though!). Use it to our advantage and make squash a mainstream sport, then politely decline when finally asked to become an Olympic sport!’
The PSA and WSF issued a joint statement on learning of squash’s exclusion.
WSF and PSA have met the announcement on the proposed selection of additional sports for the Paris 2024 Olympic Programme with great disappointment.
The proposed list of four sports only, of which three sports are already confirmed by the IOC on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic programme, leads to a belief that Paris 2024 and the IOC favoured sports already in the Olympic programme, leaving practically no opportunity for other sports.
The unity that our sport enjoys globally is exceptional and is getting stronger by the day. WSF and PSA are supported by the entire squash community and, with our athletes at the forefront, have run a strong campaign that respected the timeline and the criteria set by Paris 2024 and the IOC. During the campaign, we showed that squash has a vibrant and real forward-looking programme rooted in constant innovation, which strives for more inclusiveness and sustainability, youth engagement and equality across all of our activities in and outside of the court.
We truly believe squash could seamlessly integrate into the Olympic programme with minimal costs and an optimised pool of participants. Our unique interactive glass court would allow squash to bring a lot of additional excitement and spectacular action to any iconic monument of the host city or shed a new light on less known urban areas, while also helping to engage young people in the sport from day one of the preparations and well beyond the Olympic Games.