It is more than twenty years since I attempted to play, I have no particular interest in it, and the memories of sweating profusely and being smacked in the legs by my opponent’s racquet are going to stay locked away, but the decision to continue to omit squash from the Olympic Games left me feeling faintly depressed.
The Olympics should be the pinnacle of a sporting career – that’s not an original opinion, but it is a valid one. There may be some merit in having Tiger Woods grace Chicago/Madrid/Rio/Tokyo 2016, but after the initial fuss, Woods (and golf) will have as much bearing on the Olympics as that other sporting multi-millionaire, Roger Federer.
Federer is, of course, an Olympic Champion, teaming up with countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in the doubles event in Beijing. So too are Miloslav Mecir, Marc Rosset, and Nicolas Massu. Even Tim Henman has an Olympic silver medal. It probably matters to them, but in the context of their wider sport, and the Olympics as a whole, the event is largely irrelevant.
The IOC makes decisions based on press coverage and money. That’s life, I guess, but where’s the Olympic spirit in that? Squash would have brought in minimal finance and is rubbish to watch on TV, but, just for once, couldn’t we have a decision based purely on ideals and sporting merit? For the 150 national associations that are members of World Squash, the dream of making it into the elite world sporting event will remain unfulfilled for at least another four years. Depressing.
In case you were wondering, he’s a list of sports and events which deserve to be in the Olympics less than squash: Aquatics – diving and synchronised swimming, Archery, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Judo, Modern Pentathlon, Shooting, Taekwondo, Tennis, Wrestling. Views welcome about Handball.