(ATR) President Jacques Fontaine tells Around the Rings the federation received good feedback in meetings with Paris Olympic organizers.
Leaders from the World Squash Federation and Professional Squash Association, global governing body for the men’s and women’s squash tour, presented their pitch for inclusion in the Paris Games at a meeting last month.
"We are thankful to Paris 2024 for the constructive dialogue we have had so far," Fontaine told ATR.
"We are confident that squash would be a great strategic choice for inclusion in the Olympic program, in line with the IOC’s New Norm and Agenda 2020 reforms and the Paris 2024 vision."
After two failed Olympic bids, Fontaine believes squash is now better positioned to enter the Summer Games program than ever before.
The former president of the French Squash Federation, also a board member of the country’s NOC, is drawing on his relationships in the French sports movement to boost the sport’s Olympic push. Aiding the Olympic bid effort is France’s strong tradition in the sport; it has two male and two female world champions and hosted the European Team Championships in 2015 and 2017. France also hosted the WSF Men's World Team Squash Championship in Marseille in 2017.
"Just like in the actual game in squash, we learned from our past experience and, through the years, we developed a deep understanding of the needs and priorities of the Olympic Movement," he said.
"Neither the context, nor our sport remained still, and this bid is completely different from our previous campaigns."
"Squash today has a vibrant and real forward-looking vision rooted in constant innovation, striving for more inclusiveness and sustainability across all our activities on and outside of the court," he added.
In its Olympic bid campaign, WSF leaders are underscoring the successful debut of squash as a showcase sport at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires last October.
Key elements of the campaign include promoting innovation and evolutionof broadcasting in the sport via bespoke production arm, SQUASHTV. This includes interactive and "gamified" front walls, the integration of players’ heart-rates in the broadcast output and taking the game to iconic locations with all glass courts.
Fontaine highlights the flexibility and low-cost of the sport as two other assets in the Olympic quest. Only 64 athletes need to be added to Paris 2024 and the format of the competition can be adapted for the best fan experience, both on site and on TV, he emphasizes.
"We truly believe that we can seamlessly integrate the Olympic program with minimal investment and an optimized gender-equal pool of participants," he said, "all the while bringing a lot of additional excitement as well as spectacular action to the very heart of the host cities through our unique state-of-the-art glass courts."
For Paris 2024, the federation would provide a glass court currently in use by the French Squash Federation free of charge.
Squash is among a group of sports bidding for 2024 Olympic inclusion, which includes snooker and the five sports who joined the Tokyo 2020 Games on a one-off basis – baseball/softball, skateboarding, karate, sport climbing and surfing.
Paris 2024 organizers will continue discussions with the federations in the coming weeks before a decision is made to submit a list of additional new sports for the Games to the IOC Olympic Program Commission in the spring.
They will be reviewed by the commission and IOC executive board, with recommendations for initial approval made to the IOC Session meeting in Lausanne in June. If approved, these sports will be considered for inclusion in the 2024 Games – but only after a thorough review of the five new sports on the Tokyo 2020 program, which would happen in the autumn next year.
The final event program and athlete quotas for any new sports for Paris 2024 will be finalized by the IOC executive board in December 2020.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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