Surge in support for squash to join 2020 Olympics

The support for squash is surging days before International Olympic Committee votes on which new sport will be added to 2020 Games

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
roger federer
Backing the bid: Roger Federer and Nicol David Photo: ABN AMRO WTT - Henk Koster

With just days to go until the International Olympic Committee votes on which new sport will be added to the 2020 Games, the support for squash is surging.

Even before the announcement of the short-list in St Petersburg in May, the backing for squash had become truly international. The tennis community, in the shape of Roger Federer, Kim Clijsters, Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg and more, threw their weight behind the bid. There was the England rugby squad, the Indian cricket team and, in the last seven days alone, more than 20,000 new Facebook ‘likes’.

As the squash campaign “Back the Bid” builds momentum towards D-day on 8 September—when the IOC announces its decision between squash, baseball/softball and wrestling—the Squash 2020 Facebook page has registered over 124,000 likes, with a 21 percent increase during the last seven days, while the Back the Bid film on YouTube has received almost 153,000 views. And completing the social media drive, the Twitter tag @Vote4Squash is fast approaching 10,000 followers.

The online support is truly global, too, coming from Brazil, Egypt, Columbia, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Switzerland, India, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Malaysia, once again highlighting squash’s appeal across all continents and languages.

This chimes with the thrust of the squash campaign from the outset, that it remains true to the Olympic ideal. Squash is played by millions around the world, in 185 countries, and offers medal opportunities to a growing number of new nations. And the sport’s two world champions, the charismatic Nicol David and Ramy Ashour, represent that diversity.

David said in St Petersburg: “My own country, Malaysia, has never won gold at the Games and if I can stay healthy, and of course with the support of the IOC, perhaps I can try to make Olympic history for Malaysia in 2020.”

Egyptian Ashour added: “Squash has had a profound impact on many thousands of Egyptians, and it enjoys a popularity surpassed only by soccer in my country. It is played not just in Cairo but right across Egypt, by all ages.

“Squash reflects the essence of Olympic sport. It’s gladiatorial, physically demanding and mentally challenging. It’s a true sport, and already played in every major multi-sport games, including the Asian, Commonwealth, Pan Am and World Games.

“I’m only 25 but in my time competing on the men’s tour and international events, I know that our sport has been on a journey. And I really do hope and pray that this journey leads me to the Olympic Games in 2020.”

The full IOC membership will meet for its 125th session in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 7 to 10 September where it will vote on which of the three sports to add to the 2020 programme.

Watch and listen to David and Ashour, and admire 21st century squash on YouTube

Back the squash bid on Facebook

Follow squash on Twitter @Vote4Squash

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