In the wake of yesterday’s confirmation from the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) that squash will not feature in the 2020 Olympic Games, Professional Squash Association (PSA) Chief Executive Alex Gough has reiterated his belief that the future of squash is bright despite the latest blow to the sport’s Olympic aspirations.
Squash was one of three sports initially in the running to make it to 2020 but was forced to embark on a period of uncertainty when wrestling was reinstated in its favour in 2013. Changes to the Olympic charter offered a reprieve as squash was listed alongside baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, climbing, surfing and wushu as vying for a place at the Games before yesterday’s announcement ended those hopes once again.
“The Olympic Games should be the pinnacle of any athlete’s career and inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Games would have been a defining moment for squash and our athletes,” said Gough.
“To know that dream has been taken away from our players once again is disappointing for all involved, but not unexpected.
“We were naturally disappointed in 2013 when the IOC chose to re-instate wrestling during a period of time when squash appeared to be a front-runner for Olympic inclusion, but throughout the course of the last decade we have addressed all of the concerns the IOC have put forward and as a result the sport is in its strongest position ever.
“We have transitioned into a bourgeoning global sport that is now broadcast in almost 100 countries worldwide and which has witnessed increases in player earnings by over 20 per cent so far in the past year alone.
“As a sport squash is committed to driving forward equality, both in revenue earning potential and playing opportunities, across both sexes and the professional sport is now administered by one unified governing body across the men’s and women’s games.
“We have one of the cleanest drug records of any professional sport in the world and are a sport that is played in over 180 countries – boasting a truly global footprint.
“Our players, who regularly cover over four kilometres per match, are amongst the fittest athletes in the world and we are a sport that can be enjoyed equally at beginner level and elite.
“Alongside that recent improvements in broadcast technology, video referee technology, glass court developments and more have taken the sport into a new dimension.
“These are all elements that everyone in the sport can feel truly proud of and we are buoyed by the strides we continue to take and we are committed to continuing that journey irrespective of the Olympic Games.”