Squash Looking for Hong Kong Open to Boost Olympic Bid

November 22, 2012

Squash is looking to boost it’s 2024 inclusion bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the Hong Kong Open.

Alex Gough, chief executive of the Professional Squash Association, told BBC Sport: “This is a lot more of a winnable race than it has been before. When you look at the list of criteria that all the sports in the race have to meet, I think we are now in a position where we pretty much tick all of those boxes.”

Seven sports are in the running for inclusion in the Games in eight years. They include squash, climbing, karate, roller sports, baseball/softball, wakeboard and wushu.

Following the IOC’s feedback in 2009 after failing to make it to the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games, squash now has redesigned its glass court for improved spectator viewing, added under-court lighting, arena music, video reviews for referees, introduced HawkEye, in-play statistics, more televised matches, and there are now iconic locations for matches including the Egyptian pyramids and Grand Central Station.

Gough said: “We have had a lot of messages from the IOC about making the sport more commercial, improving it for television, and so on. A key thing is that presentation. Look at the ATP Finals at the O2 – that is a classic example, with all that lighting and making it a really excellent spectator experience for the paying public. Those are the sorts of lessons we are trying to pick up all the time as a sport that’s trying to be innovative and learn from bigger sports.

“We have really improved the sport for TV over the last two or three years. It has been a big push forward, and we are trying to improve it week after week”.

Gough added, “At the core of squash is that the athletes are among the fittest on the planet. They can play two-hour matches with pulse rates of 180 beats per minute for the whole time.

“Squash hasn’t been great at showcasing its athletes, until now. We have always had the players but they haven’t been placed in the professional-looking events that they deserve. The sport has caught up”.

Squash is to submit it’s bid presentation on December 19 and the sport added to the Olympic program in 2020 will be announced September 2013.