A Member of the UK Parliament, Christina Rees, MP for Neath in Wales, yesterday [July 19th] delivered a paper titled ‘Squash and the Olympic Games’ for discussion at the UK Houses of Parliament in London in a bid to urge the British government to take action over the sport’s continued absence from the Olympic Games.
Squash was one of three sports initially in the running to make it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but was forced to embark on yet another period of uncertainty when wrestling was reinstated, ahead of squash and baseball/softball, only months after being dropped from the Olympic programme.
The sport then suffered another blow in September of last year when the Tokyo Olympic Games Organising Committee decided to omit it from the list of recommended sports to gain inclusion in 2020, instead recommending surfing, karate, baseball/softball, skateboarding and climbing.
Rees, a former Welsh No.1, has been the latest advocate for squash’s inclusion in future Olympic Games.
“Many people are surprised to learn that squash is not an Olympic sport; they assume that it has been in the Olympics for many years,” the Labour MP told her fellow MPs.
“Sadly, that is not the case. Squash is gladiatorial, dynamic, physically demanding and mentally challenging; it is like chess on legs. It teaches players strategy, tactics and how to outmanoeuvre an opponent, so it is an ideal grounding for a political career. Squash is a sport for life.”
“Why is squash not in the Olympics? It is a complete mystery to me. Squash is a genuinely global sport that is played by millions of people all over the world.
“There have been male and female world champions from every continent. Last year, 47 countries hosted professional senior tour events, featuring players from 74 nations. We now have over 50,000 courts in more than 185 nations, from the Arctic Circle to the bottom tips of South America and Australia.
“The host for 2024 will be decided in 2017. The front-runner appears to be Los Angeles, but we have no idea whether there will be any space for new sports. Squash would be inexpensive to introduce, with men's and women's singles draws of 32 each.
“The competitions would take place on two courts over six days – each show court could accommodate 4,000 spectators. Imagine what two show courts in Horse Guards Parade would have added to the London games!”.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tracey Crouch, added yesterday: “There is no doubt that the case to include squash as a future Olympic sport has been made with great passion and conviction today.
“Squash is indeed an exciting, dynamic sport and it has a rich heritage in this country. There is certainly a case to be made that such an innovative and exciting sport should be able to grace the world's biggest stage.”
A full transcript of the debate is available here.