The world's leading players pledged their support for the World Squash Federation's bid for Squash to become an Olympic sport by signing a declaration that "An Olympic Gold Medal Would Be The Ultimate Prize In Squash".
World number ones Amr Shabana, of Egypt, and Nicol David, from Malaysia, led the players' call for the sport to join the Olympic Games programme in 2016 at a 'Countdown to Copenhagen" reception in Manchester today (Wednesday), hosted by the WSF and led by its President Jahangir Khan, one of the sport's greatest players of all time.
The reception took place during the Hi-Tec World Squash Championships – Manchester 2008, the first championships in the UK to combine both the Men's World Open and Women's World Open.
Squash is one of seven sports which have been short-listed by the IOC for consideration for the 2016 Games - the decision for which will be made in Copenhagen in October 2009.
Jahangir Khan outlined the sport's Olympic credentials and the timetable of the bid process over the next twelve months.
"We have a year to ensure that we do what needs to be done to get Squash into the Olympics. All parties have to work closely, with everybody pushing hard to try to do their best to make this happen," said the six-time world champion and record ten times British Open winner.
Khan pointed out that an IOC delegation, comprising Sir Craig Reedie and Pierre Ducrey, will attend the Manchester World Championships later in the week.
The WSF President expressed his gratitude to all the players who had taken time out from the World Championships to attend the reception.
"We are delighted that all the players have signed our pledge - showing that it would be a dream come true for all players for Squash to get into the Olympics.
Gerard de Courcy, a Vice President of the WSF, added: "One of our strengths is that we are an easy sport to access - thus squash can make sport more accessible generally. Squash would gain a higher profile through being part of the Olympics and therefore could lead to more people being attracted to participate in sport, which is one of the Olympic ideals.
"The World Masters Squash Championships, which will take place this month in New Zealand for players in age-groups from Over-35 to Over-70, have attracted a remarkable entry of 763 players from 39 countries - which is another indication of the broad appeal of our sport."
Susie Simcock, the Emeritus President of the WSF who represented the Federation at the Beijing Olympics, alongside Khan, also pointed out: "We are a totally athlete-focussed sport - few other sports can claim the calibre of our athletes."
There was further endorsement of the WSF's Olympic campaign from the World Championships' organisers: "The Hi-Tec World Squash Championships – Manchester 2008 welcomes members the International Olympic Committee to the National Squash Centre this week to view what we hope will be the biggest and best squash tournament ever staged," said Jim Quigley, Head of Major Sports Events and Partnerships, Manchester City Council.
"Squash has for a long time felt it deserves Olympic status and this week’s Championships will be the perfect platform in which to display the sport to the people who will ultimately make that decision. Squash is a truly international sport with countries from every continent represented here in Manchester and it would mean everything for these players to have the chance to win an Olympic medal for their country."
photos Janos Schmidt