World No.1 Nicol David believes that the strength of women’s squash is boosting the sport’s chances of becoming an Olympic sport. “Women’s squash means a lot to the bid. I’m really proud of how far women’s squash has come in terms of equality and equal prize money and I think people recognise that,” says David.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce on Sunday which of three shortlisted sports – squash, wrestling and a joint bid from baseball/softball – will be part of the 2020 Olympic Games. Gender parity is believed to be one of the factors the IOC takes into account when considering sports for inclusion. With a thriving WSA World Tour, equal prize money at many joint men’s and women’s professional events and increased opportunities for women from around the globe to compete, it’s an area where David believes squash has the edge over its rivals.
“I’m very happy that the women’s tour is growing. It’s a really exciting time for the WSA because we have a really vibrant group of players coming in from all over the world,” says David. “We have marquee events where there is equal prize money and in my country, Malaysia, the Malaysian Open actually offers more prize money to women than to the men because the women’s sport is so popular.”
Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer, Chairman of the Women’s Squash Association, says: “We saw at last year’s Olympic Games in London the incredibly positive role that women’s sport plays in the Olympics and we’d love women’s squash to be part of that.”
Key facts about women’s professional squash and the WSA World Tour:
- 247 players from 42 countries currently compete on the WSA World Tour.
- The WSA World Tour now boasts 72 events in 25 countries (with Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Australasia all represented).
- In the last 20 years, the number of events on the WSA World Tour has grown by almost 70% (69.4% from 22 – 72).
- Total prize-money on the WSA Tour is now US$1,450,000.
- Total prize-money on the WSA Tour has increased by US$628,725 – a 43% increase in the last ten years.
- In addition to the 72 WSA Tour events, the WSA also sanctions 19 Challenger-level events in the competitive tier below.
- At the Malaysian Open, which runs the week of the Olympic announcement, total women’s prize money (US$70,000) is higher than the men’s total prize-money purse (US$50,000).
- 60% of the joint WSA/PSA Tour events held in the complete 2012 season paid equal prize money.
- The WSA Tour is fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code for clean sport.