On October 9th, 2023, it was announced that the LA28 organizing committee had recommended to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that squash, among four other sports, join the 2028 Olympic Sport Program. By October 16th, 2023, the IOC ratified that recommendation: squash, for the first time ever, will be an Olympic sport.
“I’m delighted; I think it’s going to be a terrific Olympic sport,” said former vice president and honorary member of the IOC, Dick Pound. “Squash is the kind of sport the IOC is looking for: gender equality, great emphasis on fitness and skill, it’s not expensive – it checks all the boxes.”
Since the late 1980s, and the introduction of multi-sided viewing showcourts, squash has been vying for a position in the Olympic Games. Pound, a Canadian Squash Hall of Fame inductee, has historically been a strong advocate for squash to join the Olympic Sport Program. Leveraging his position with the IOC, Pound has been working diligently for decades to see squash’s inclusion: “It’s been a journey. We’ve been close to inclusion before, but no sport likes to come off the Program and there’s a practical limit to the number of sports and athletes you can put into the Games. It takes a lot of quiet, hard work and enlightened leadership to get the attention of the IOC’s Program Commission. The sport has grown in bits and pieces over the years, and with the improvement of technology and increasing ease of travel, squash has been able to spread and become more genuinely international. It now has everything the IOC should be looking for and this is an excellent opportunity both for squash and the IOC.”
With a seat at the table in the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games, among other major multi-sport events and world squash events, the Olympics were the next natural milestone for squash competition. After narrowly missing out on inclusion to the Olympic Sport Program several times in the past decade, the success of inclusion at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles is a great feeling of excitement and anticipation for the sport.
“It’s strong motivation to just work hard and maybe get close to being an Olympian,” shared Ocean Ma, Girls U19 Champion at the 2023 Canadian Junior National Championships. Both Ocean and twin sister Spring Ma, Girls U17 Champion, share plans to play at the collegiate level once they graduate from high school.
“It’s with great joy and excitement that Squash Canada received news this morning that squash will be included at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games,” said Sandra Thompson, Squash Canada President. “This is a long time coming and we greatly appreciate the tremendous effort and passion our squash colleagues poured into securing squash’s place at what will be its pinnacle event! For our athletes, it is a dream come true to set one’s goals to represent squash and Canada at the Olympic Games. For Canadian officials and coaches, this will be another opportunity to be part of international competition at its highest level.
“We are very grateful to the LA28 and Olympic Committee for this opportunity. We know that squash will provide an exciting, fast paced spectacle that demonstrates that squash truly belongs in the Olympic Games.”
The LA28 organizing committee had the opportunity to consider including new sports for its edition of the Olympic Games, and through a very lengthy process called the Request for Information (RFI), squash was selected for recommendation. The RFI assessed sports on various factors including economic responsibility, gender equality, sport integrity, fan interest, youth relevance, and more.
Jamie Nicholls, CEO of Squash Canada: “Squash Canada celebrates the inclusion of our sport to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Program. It’s a testament to the resilience and determination of our national and global communities to at last take our rightful place on the world’s largest and most impactful sporting stage.
“To the athletes and coaches that have helped chart this important course: we thank you deeply for your contribution. And to young squash players across our nation: may this allow you to dream bigger, train harder and reach higher in your pursuit of the Olympic dream.”
Squash Canada is ecstatic by the IOC’s ratification of squash in the LA28 Games and looks forward to this next chapter for squash on the world stage.