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Sports Talk: Why squash is not an Olympic sport - Daily News Egypt

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Sports Talk: Why squash is not an Olympic sport

Once again our squash players have made us proud, the men and the women gaining respective first place finishes in the Hurghada Open. Rami Ashour and Omneya Abdel-Kawi produced a popular home double in the squash international, cementing Egypt’s hierarchical position on the world squash map, with Egypt currently boasting four players in the men …


Once again our squash players have made us proud, the men and the women gaining respective first place finishes in the Hurghada Open. Rami Ashour and Omneya Abdel-Kawi produced a popular home double in the squash international, cementing Egypt’s hierarchical position on the world squash map, with Egypt currently boasting four players in the men s world top 10, led by world champion Amr Shabana and No 2 Ashour, and 12 in the top 50. If only squash was an Olympic sport, we would walk away with a neckful of medals. Unfortunately, there will be no squash or a bunch of medals from it, neither in Beijing nor even London 2012. When baseball and softball were voted out of the program for London, five new sports — golf, karate, roller skating, rugby sevens and squash — were put forward as possible replacements. Karate and squash emerged from seven rounds of voting by members of the International Olympic Committee as the two sports to be put to a final ballot in 2005 but neither won the two-thirds majority required to gain Olympic status. It means the earliest squash can now be introduced into the Games is 2016. Why has squash been so far given the Olympic thumbs down? The IOC members voting on the issue did so in secret ballot, so we may never know what the problem is. We do know a sport or discipline is included in the Olympic program if the IOC determines that it is widely practiced around the world. To enter the Olympics, for instance, an event must be practiced in at least 50 countries (35 for the Winter Olympics), on three continents, by men and women. Squash meets all those criterion, so there’s no problem there. Perhaps — again we’re guessing because it’s a secret — the IOC doesn’t find squash sexy enough (beach volleyball, which comes to the fiendish mind, is). A big majority of the players seem to be over 40, i.e. still playing from the 80 s/90 s. There is an element of that old businessman stereotype about squash. It has a rather corporate image, these entrepreneurs in their brand name squash attire who just have to walk down the corridors swinging their racquets against imaginary incoming balls whilst loudly congratulating each other on a “good game before changing back into their sensible black suits. And if you’re young enough to play, you’re probably an aggressive yuppie knocking another yuppie about on the court. Squash certainly has a reputation for being better to play than watch. Squash can be so fast there is no suspense or time to appreciate the skill of the players. Moreover, for an audience, the play varies between too fast to follow and boringly repetitious. Perhaps the fact that squash involves a small ball moving very fast, in an enclosed space, has not invited either TV coverage or enough enthusiasts. Little TV, and if so, not on primetime but the graveyard shift, no advertising and sponsorship means no fans, means zero interest. Economics also play a factor. The simple fact is that health and fitness centers, a dance or aerobics studio can cram two dozen people on exercise machines into the same space as is taken up by a squash court, charge a similar hourly rate and hence multiply income by a factor of 12. Why preserve what is considered a minority sport under these circumstances? And if there are squash courts, they tear them down, Lambs in the UK being the most tragic example. Lambs squash club in Moorgate was described by Jahangir Khan, the six-time World Open champion, as the best he had ever played in. It was one of the most well-loved and prestigious squash clubs in the world, the largest in the UK, and home to the British Open. Then, the nine-court facility, known as the Wimbledon of squash, was closed down to make way for a block of flats. It is hard to imagine Wimbledon or Wembley being unceremoniously sold to property developers. So if fitness clubs are not putting the squeeze on squash, property developers are. And if there are squash courts, they’re too expensive. Football can be played anywhere. Squash requires a specific building, with lighting and that costs money. People aren t going to play something they have to pay for, when they can be kicking a ball around for free. And if there are squash courts, the standard of the courts are rarely that high, what with poor lighting and dirty and creaky floor boards. If you wish to play on a decent court that is maintained to high standard, there is a high price to pay: membership club fees then the court time fees. So that’s may be why squash is not in the Olympics – although next week we’ll find out why may be it should be. END

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https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2008/05/02/sports-talk-why-squash-is-not-an-olympic-sport/
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