At the first Conference and Annual General Meeting of the World Squash Federation since the sport learned that its bid to join the programme for the 2016 Olympic Games had failed, delegates from WSF Member nations from all over the world were urged to keep fighting to achieve the Olympic dream.
The one-day WSF Conference in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, titled ‘The Olympics: Past, Present & Future‘, preceded the AGM on Saturday (14 November) which President N Ramachandran chaired for the first time.
Pierre Ducrey, the International Olympic Committee’s Head of Sports Operations and IF Relations, attended the AGM and briefed the delegates on the process which led to the announcement of the IOC decision in August.
Ducrey acknowledged that Squash had a range of strengths – including athleticism; universality; has a growing number of member nations; is flexible in its staging of events; is clean; has improved its funding; would guarantee its top athletes in the Games; and has a strong presence in a wide range of Major Games.
But Ducrey went on to explain that the IOC were also looking for sports which would complement the current programme – and that the two new sports would offer a greater commercial perspective, more spectators and more sponsorship opportunities.
Ducrey confirmed that a strong link had been established between the IOC and the WSF, and that President Jacques Rogge would be hosting a meeting with the Federation in December. It was stated that the IOC will conduct an analysis of all ‘Recognised Sports’ in 2011, and will make a further study after the London 2012 Games with a view to announcing a process to consider new sports for the 2020 Games in 2013 – by when one sport would be voted off the programme.
Ducrey understood the frustration that delegates must feel – but urged Squash to ‘keep pushing’.
The IOC’s Head of Sports Operations fielded a variety of questions from the floor – acknowledging that it was clear that all athletes had been involved in the Olympic bid; that the next process for choosing sports would be more clear; and that, though 34 criteria of each of the bidding sports had been assessed, the two chosen had the highest commercial potential.
Later in the AGM, delegates elected Serbia to full membership of the WSF.
There was overwhelming support for the establishment of an Athletes’ Commission, comprising four members appointed by the Professional Squash Association and four by the Women’s International Squash Players’ Association, plus one member appointed by the WSF. World Squash legend Sarah Fitz-Gerald is the elected Chairperson of the commission.
The initiative, promoted by the IOC, is intended to improve communication between WSF and the athletes and provide a forum for athletes’ views to be heard.
It was also agreed that nominees of the two player bodies, the PSA and WISPA, plus the Athletes’ Commission Chairperson, would be appointed to join the WSF Executive Committee.
The following World Championships were newly allocated:
2010 Women’s World Junior Individual Championship: Egypt
2011 Men’s World Team Championship: Germany
2011 Men’s World Junior Individual Championship: Belgium
2011 Women’s World Junior Team & Individual Championships: Egypt
2012 Men’s World Junior Team & Individual Championships & Women’s World Junior individual Championship: South Korea
2012 World Masters Championships: England