(Reuters) - Frustrated by two failed bids to get squash into the Olympics, world number one Nicol David and her fellow players have embarked on a campaign to raise the sport’s global profile in an attempt to win over IOC chiefs in Hong Kong this week.
One sport will be added to the program for the 2020 Games with squash up against karate, the Chinese martial art of wushu, baseball, softball, roller sports, wakeboarding and sport climbing.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will make its decision on a host for the 2020 Games, as well as which sport to add, at its session in Argentina in September 2013.
IOC observers are inspecting the Hong Kong Open as part of their squash evaluation and David said the tournament was the ideal setting to show the sport deserved a place at the Games.
“Hong Kong is the perfect place for the IOC’s inspection,” the South China Morning Post quoted the Malaysian as saying.
“They have always put on a good show and the players love coming here. I have no doubt that we can impress the IOC.”
Determined to avoid rejection for a third time, squash examined how to make the game more fan-friendly and appealing to television.
Players have also been trying to raise its profile by staging flash mob dances in Malaysia and New York.
“Yes, we have done everything, the players even dancing on the streets of Brooklyn and Kuala Lumpur this year to raise the sport’s profile,” said the 29-year-old David.
”We have become more fan-friendly. In the past squash was regarded as a bit too sterile where you couldn’t cheer. But now if there is a great shot and the fans cheer, the rally will continue. The players won’t stop playing, we have to move with the times and we have adapted.
”This is partly due to the fact that the game is now being taken to the fans. We are playing in shopping malls and in outdoor courts in exotic locations like the Hong Kong harbor or Grand Central Station in New York, where there is outside noise anyway.
“You can’t stop that noise so how can you stop a fan from cheering?” added David, who is looking for her eighth consecutive title in Hong Kong.
Writing by Peter Rutherford in Singapore; Editing by Alastair Himmer