Squash could get squeezed by youth vote in Olympic bid

By Reuters Staff
March 19, 2009

At a recent press event to showcase squash’s bid for inclusion in the 2016 Games, it occurred to me that – at a competitive level at least – today’s game is a far cry from the dowdy image of middle aged men in far-too-short shorts, writes Kylie MacLellan.

But with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) eager to refresh the Olympic programme and attract a younger audience, proving it has overcome this image could be the biggest hurdle squash faces in making a successful bid.

The last sport to be added to the Olympic programme was BMX, which made its debut in Beijing last year, and followed the popular addition of snowboarding to the Winter Games in 1998.

BMX brought the Games the kind of extreme-sports chic it had been seeking. Rock music blared out as tattooed and multi-pierced BMXers raced around the dirt course during action packed races lasting only 40 seconds – perfect for the short attention spans of the computer game generation.

The IOC will decide in October whether to introduce up to two new sports for the 2016 Games, with squash vying with baseball, golf, rugby, karate, roller sports and softball for a place.

But given the move towards extreme or more youthful sports, it looks like squash could have a tough fight on its hands.

With an unsuccessful attempt to win a place at the 2012 Games behind them, the World Squash Federation are really going for it this time, doing everything they can to promote the advantages of squash’s inclusion.

But how far they can persuade the IOC that squash is an exciting game remains to be seen.

PHOTO: David Palmer (R) competes with Gregory Gaultier in the final of their squash World Open at the pyramids in Cairo Sept. 6, 2006. REUTERS/Tara Todras-Whitehill

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