With less than a week to go until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes at its meet in Argentina to decide if squash will join the 2020 Olympics, the sport’s bid has received surging social media support worldwide.
This may not come as great news for supporters of wrestling, which is vying with squash and baseball/softball for inclusion in the Olympic programme.
India is increasingly making a mark on the global stage in wrestling. Of India’s 13 individual Olympic medals, wrestlers have given 4 (Sushil Kumar two of them).
Wrestling, which has been a part of the ancient Olympics as well as every modern Games apart from 1900, was surprisingly taken off the 2020 Olympics by the IOC executive board in a February vote as the sports body looked to refresh its programme.
Wrestling battled back into contention, joining squash and baseball/softball as the three candidates on a shortlist for one spot on the programme of the 2020 Olympics.
For wrestling, clear frontrunners to win back the spot, it will be the culmination of a frantic seven-month period that saw more changes to rules, categories and the administration than in entire decades before combined.
The fight, however, is on ahead of the big decision on September 8 (Sunday).
The Squash 2020 Facebook page has now registered over 124,000 likes (a 21% increase over the last week) with the ‘Back the Bid’ film on YouTube receiving almost 153,000 views and @Vote4Squash Twitter account fast approaching 10,000 followers, according to a World Squash Federation (WSF) statement on Tuesday.
As the only new sport to be shortlisted for inclusion at the 2020 Summer Games, squash has received social media support from across the globe, including Brazil, Egypt, Columbia, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Switzerland, India, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Malaysia.
WSF president N Ramachandran said, “Digital and social media is a great platform to engage and bring people together and it is fantastic to see the growing number of people from around the world supporting Squash 2020 online.”
Apart from choosing the sport to be included in 2020 Olympics, two more major decisions are scheduled to be made during the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, beginning Wednesday.
The action begins with a meeting of the IOC executive board on September 4 and 5.
President Jacques Rogge, who will retire after 12 years in office following the session, is scheduled to give a press conference after his last board meeting on Thursday.
The session (full IOC membership) opens on September 6 evening, with an official ceremony at Buenos Aires’ famous opera house, the Teatro Colon.
The three candidate cities bidding to host the 2020 Olympic Games — Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid — will deliver their final presentations to the session on September 7 before the vote. The host city will be announced during a ceremony from 5 to 5.30pm.
The composition of the 2020 Olympic programme will be discussed on September 8 morning, with decisions on the core sports expected at around 10.15am and the possible inclusion of an additional sport at noon.
Wrestling, baseball/softball and squash and wrestling bodies will deliver short presentations to the session ahead of the vote.
On September 8 afternoon, the session will hear reports about the preparations for future editions of the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games. The organising committees and respective IOC Coordination Commission Chairs for Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing 2014 and in Lillehammer 2016 will update the IOC members about the ongoing work and progress made in the host cities.
On September 9, the IOC session will receive reports from IOC commissions, the IOC administration, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
On the final day of its meeting in Buenos Aires, September 10, the IOC members will elect their new president, the ninth in the history of the Olympic Movement, as well as vote on one new vice-president, one new member of the IOC executive board, and nine proposed new members and honorary members.
The six presidential candidates vying to succeed Jacques Rogge are Thomas Bach, Sergey Bubka (the greatest male pole vaulter the world has seen so far), Richard Carrion, Ng Ser Miang, Denis Oswald, and Wu Ching-Kuo. The announcement of the new IOC president is scheduled for 12.30pm.
(With inputs from Reuters/IANS)