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Squash vs The Olympics

Camille Serme (black shorts) of France plays against Yathreb Adel (grey top) of Egypt during the The J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions Squash Tournament at Grand Central Terminal in New York, NY, January 13, 2020. The tournament is played on a four-walled glass court set up under the chandeliers of Vanderbuilt Hall. (Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)

Squash players in the North East have lamented the news that the sport will once again fail to feature in the 2024 Olympic games.

It’s yet another setback in the game’s long campaign to earn a place at the top table of sport. Breakdancing, or breaking as it will be known, will instead make its debut at the Paris games.

The Head Coach of the University of Northumbria’s Squash team Dave Barnett is numb to the news and is no longer surprised by the International Olympic Committee.

He said: “I don’t think the announcement that ‘Breaking’ recently being confirmed as a sport is a fresh snub to squash.

“It is however a fresh reminder that squash has continually been denied a place which is baffling to all who know squash.”

The University of Northumbria’s Squash club President Emily Hick is also critical of the continued absence of squash from the games.

Hick’s said: “Personally, I feel it is a big shame that squash has once again been denied a place in the Olympics.

“I believe the sport is very underrated and has many promising young individuals that are incredible at the sport that should be allowed to show off their talent to the world.”

Barnett placed the blame for squash’s’ failure to be included in the summer games at the feet of the Olympics and their ever-changing criteria for entry into the games.

“Squash was aware of the criteria, but I think the frustration is those ‘criteria’ keep changing.”

He pointed to a series of improvements made by the sport, in order to win favour from the IOC. The expansion of the game into new markets such as the Americas and the Far East through to the establishment of its own television station, PSA TV in order to make the game come across as the ‘athletic dynamic sport it is’. These changes were meant to bring the sport in line with other events partake in the games.

However, Barnett suggests that while the changes have improved the sport, it will not be enough to persuade the IOC as the Olympics simply do not adhere to their own participation guidelines.

He said: “squash worked hard to address the above but when it came to it on the last decision they decided to go with ‘youth appeal’ as their main criteria.

“Many of the sports which were included didn’t pass the previous criteria but that didn’t matter.”

The continued rejection of the sport has led ex- professional player Michelle Martin to sensationally claim that the Olympic Games has become a ‘mockery’. This raises the question as to why squash has been unable to persuade the Olympic authorities to take a chance on the sport?

Hick has said that the major reason squash been unable to force its way to the pinnacle of sport is down to financial reasons.

“I think squash still isn’t an Olympic sport because it hasn’t had the recognition it deserves. I feel as if we don’t get a lot of funding to promote the sport to a wider audience unlike other sports.

“I know so many of my friends have tried the sport for example and really liked it, however, they have not carried it on as they feel they can’t achieve big things within it and therefore would rather play it just for fun.”

Hick’s added: “I still believe there are many that are passionate about the sport and will still fight to get involved in the coming years.”