Squash fight goes on

Squash’s governing body is continuing to campaign to get into the Olympics after the disappointment of losing out to wrestling.  

The International Olympic Committee has voted to reinstate wrestling – one of the original Olympic sports – to the games rather than adding squash or baseball/softball.  

International Olympic Committee members voted in Buenos Aires to reinstate wrestling to the Olympics for the 2020 and 2024 Games.  

The World Squash Federation will continue its campaign to have the sport included in the Olympics.  

In the Cayman Islands, the squash community is just as committed with the campaign. Here the sport is thriving, unlike wrestling. Interest and participation has been piqued in recent year with the staging of the Cayman Open and the Women’s World Open last December. The tournaments attracted all the world’s best women players – and some of the best men – to the Cayman Islands and quickly established it as a favorite place to play.  

Janet Sairsingh, chairwoman of the Cayman Islands National Squash Association, said: “We are all very disappointed. Squash is an amazingly popular discipline that has been expanding as such and also as a spectator sport all over the world.  

“The squash community was looking forward to the next milestone in its history, being in the Olympics.  

“The world’s No. 1 women’s squash player, Nicol David, in the 2020 Squash Back The Bid video said she would happily trade all of her world titles for an Olympic medal. This shows her passion for the squash bid into the Olympics.” 

Sairsingh feels politics played a big part in the decision. “Politics pervades all sports and it comes down to the power of lobbyists,” she said. “In my opinion, conventional wrestling never enjoyed much popularity outside of Europe – except the Hollywood version.  

“Squash has made steady progress as a healthy, rigorous and technical sport, that is pleasurable to spectators, rather than the injurious unexciting craft of wrestling. In my view, squash wins, hands down.” 

Sairsingh has played squash to a high level all her life. She appreciates all she has gained from it, including a sense of purpose, fitness, skills, medals, trophies and many accolades.  

“For over 25 years, Cayman has consistently performed very well in regional championships such as Rose Bowl and in junior and senior Caribbean tournaments,” she said.  

“We have also represented creditably at international championships such as Island Games, Central American and Caribbean Games and Commonwealth Games.” 

The hope was that the two sports could be accommodated, but that would present logistical problems.  

“The difficulty in managing the size of the games,” Sairsingh said. “It’s a numbers issue where large numbers of athletes would need to be accommodated at games and it has become increasingly difficult for cities and countries to accommodate more than the magical number of 10,000 athletes, officials, media and so on per games.” 

Sairsingh added that it is a difficult balance and maybe the IOC should consider reducing the athlete numbers in the big sports and opening the scope for more sports while keeping the numbers within the manageable limit. 

She is glad the World Squash Federation is not giving up, regrouping and coming back with a more powerful bid for 2024. “I do believe that one day squash will be in the Olympics.”  

Is there anything else she wants to add? “Maybe a tear or two!” 

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Janet Sairsingh has played squash all her life.
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