December 2, 2014 / 4:23 AM / 3 years ago

Former IOC vice president Pound backs squash inclusion

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Dick Pound gestures during a news conference in Montreal May 13, 2007.Christinne Muschi

(Reuters) - Former International Olympic Committee vice president Dick Pound is confident the IOC will drop regulations limiting the number of sports on the Games program and says squash should be brought into the Olympic fold.

Pound, also the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said the sport had women to thank for raising standards and bringing squash into the Olympic debate.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Women's World Team Championship in Canada, Pound said squash deserved its place on the program and promised to work to get it there.

"As I look around the room at the many delegates who will participate in these championships, I cannot help thinking, as a member of the International Olympic Committee, that squash should be in the Olympic Games," he said in his opening address.

"I will do my best to make that dream a reality.

"If that happens, it will be a direct result of the high level of the women's game, not those of the men, which will make the difference.

"So you have both opportunity and responsibility."

The IOC hopes to overhaul the Games to make them more attractive to fans and sponsors, and is keen to make it easier for popular sports to get onto the Olympic program.

Later this month, an IOC session in Monaco will vote on a list of recommendations as part of President Thomas Bach's Agenda 2020, which could usher in the most significant changes to the Olympics in decades.

Squash and a joint softball/baseball bid lost to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Games in Tokyo but the IOC is looking at changing the seven-year rule for a sport's inclusion to tap into potential new viewers and sponsors.

"The IOC will be meeting in Monaco next week and I am confident that we will abolish the rule against an artificial limit of 28 sports -- and I cannot think of a better example of fitness, skill, strategy and fair play than squash," said Pound.

Reporting by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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