Cece Hampton ’24
For the first time in history, squash will make its Olympic debut in the Summer 2028 Olympic games, to be hosted in Los Angeles, California. Four other sports will also be added to the mix, including flag football, also making its Olympic debut, cricket and lacrosse which have not been a part of the Olympics since the early 20th century, and baseball-softball, which were most recently included in the 2020 Tokyo games. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach says that he believes the addition of these sports to the LA2028 games are in line with American sports culture, as well as important for bringing international sports to the U.S., and their inclusion in the competition will make the Los Angeles games unique.
The World Squash Federation (WSF), US Squash and the PSA, welcome the decision by the IOC, recognizing the value that squash will add to the competition, and the impact it will have on the legacy of the sport. Across 180 countries, squash is played by over 20 million people. Joining the Olympic games has been a long-time goal of fans, and finally seeing it become a reality is special and exciting. Some speculate that the introduction of squash into the Olympics will turn the sport that some see as elitist into something that is more widespread; demographically and geographically. One of the unique features of the sport that makes it perfect for showcasing at competitions is its ability for the court to be set up virtually anywhere. Take, for example, the 2019-2020 Women’s Squash World Championships being held in the Giza Pyramid Complex. Played in a transparent glass court, spectators are granted more visibility of the competition and action, as well as the opportunity for spectacular views. This opens the door to exponentially more broadcast capabilities than the sport has had in the past and makes it more marketable for television.
Introducing squash into the Olympics is not a novel idea. The one time it was remotely a part of the games was at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games as a demonstration sport, meant to promote and popularize the sport, instead of being part of the standard competition. Adding squash to the roster of events at the Olympics had been suggested both in 2016 and 2020, but ultimately did not receive the green light either of those times. Before the Olympics came into the picture, the biggest and most prestigious competition in the squash world was the World Championship, organized by the Professional Squash Association (PSA). Now, top squash athletes from around the world will have a shot at the pinnacle of athletic achievement: an Olympic medal.
The LA28 games will feature men’s and women’s squash singles. Although squash allows for doubles competition, doubles matches require larger courts. As an incredibly diverse sport with a long history, it is exciting to see squash finally getting a spotlight at the Olympic games.