Squash gets green light for 2024 Olympic bid

AARON GOILE
Last updated 05:00 25/10/2013

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Having fought through the agony of a third Olympic bid rejection, World Squash Federation president N Ramachandran has given the go-ahead for a tilt at the 2024 Games.

The four-day WSF conference and annual meeting wrapped up yesterday in Christchurch, with the sport's leaders determined to plough ahead in their attempts to get into the Olympics for the first time.

Last month the International Olympic Committee voted wrestling in for 2020 and 2024, with squash and baseball/softball the beaten finalists.

Squash New Zealand chief executive Jim O'Grady said that after a lengthy review of the bid process at this week's get together, Ramachandran gave a very clear message that he would continue to campaign for the sport's Olympic inclusion.

"It was discussed openly both at the conference and at the AGM and I would have taken from the meeting that there was still support for the process to carry on, there was certainly no discussion about just giving up and not having another go," O'Grady said.

With Thomas Bach elected the new IOC president last month, Ramachandran has already scheduled a meeting with him to determine where squash stands and how the Olympic programme might look going forward.

Wrestling is the only guaranteed sport for 2024, with the 27 others up for review in 2017.

"That's probably the biggest question, because there's a lot of debate about a change in the Olympic programme, the ability to get new sports into it, and that was one of the key aspects of the 2020 Olympics, [but] in fact they didn't do that at all," O'Grady said. "So I think the IOC's got to look very closely at the structure of it's programme.

"They may be bound by the athlete number, I think 10,500; 330 medals, whatever it is, but it doesn't mean to say that you couldn't get other sports in there and still stay within those boundaries. So that's where the questions will be asked and I think that's really what Ramachandran's trying to find out."

Despite the recent setback, O'Grady said there had been positives, with the bid process bringing people in the sport together.

"Particularly the professional men's and women's associations, they're far more engaged with world squash now than perhaps they have ever been. So there's a lot of good things that have happened and I think we need to capitalise on it. I think you need a goal to strive for."

Meanwhile, next week's men's world championships in England - the most lucrative event on the calendar, with US$325,000 up for grabs - will feature one New Zealand player, with Auckland world No 41 Campbell Grayson competing.

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The country's top women's player, Joelle King, from Cambridge, is in action at the China Open this weekend. Despite losing to world No 1 Nicol David in the final of last week's US Open, King is expected to rise to a career-high No 4 in next month's world rankings.

- Fairfax Media

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