By Tom Degun at Canary Wharf in London from insidethegames.biz
Squash remains confident that its bid to join the Olympic programme for 2020 will be successful, despite the dynamics of the race having been changed dramatically after wrestling was dropped from the list of core sports.
Squash is currently up against the seven bids of baseball/softball, climbing, karate, roller sport, wakeboard and wushu.
They are all fighting against wrestling, which was last month controversially axed from the programme after Rio 2016 by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) ruling Executive Board.
They have now launched a major campaign to try to reverse the decision and have the backing of several world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
All the bidding sports are due present to the IOC Executive Board at their meeting in St Petersburg at the end of May.
“The presentation to the IOC Executive Board in St Petersburg is obviously crucial but we are confident because we think we have a lot to offer,” World Squash Federation (WSF) chief executive Andrew Shelley told insidethegames here at the Canary Wharf Squash Classic, an annual international tournament featuring 16 of the world’s top male players.
Following the presentations, the shortlist is expected to be narrowed down to three sports by the Executive Board before the final vote by the IOC at their Session in Buenos Aires in September.
“We believe we can impress and make it through to the final shortlist in Buenos Aires which is obviously the final vote for the 2020 Olympic will be,” said Shelley.
“We think we have a compelling bid, particularly when the IOC is looking to limit the size of the Olympics going forward.
“A successful squash bid would mean just 64 athletes, 20 officials and two glass courts so it would be cost effective for an Organising Committee, limit the athlete numbers and have no huge infrastructure costs.
“The glass courts also offer the chance to help bring a host city to life as they could be place in any iconic location without difficulty.
“We also have all our players behind the bid asking what they can do to help because the Olympics would be the absolute pinnacle for squash.
“So we feel we have a very compelling case.”
Shelley also claimed that the WSF are in a good position to join the 2020 Olympic programme having bid twice before and come close on both occasions.
“We have learnt from what the IOC have told us following previous bids and really changed and modernised our sport and come back with a new bid,” he said.
“We have improved the presentation of the game along with measures like using under floor lighting, music, referee video review, HawkEye and in play statistics.
“The broadcast quality has also improved significantly as we now use multiple camera angles and super slow replays.
“It has really been about embracing technology to make the sport better for fans and that modernisation process is important because the global popularity of squash is huge.
“So we feel we are in a good place going into the presentation in St Petersburg.”
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