Weber Shandwick appointed to support squash's latest Olympic bid
The World Squash Federation and Professional Squash Association have signed a deal with Weber Shandwick, the global communications and engagement firm, to act as their communications campaign partner for squash to be included in the programme of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Weber Shandwick will provide strategic counsel and global public relations for the campaign, as squash makes a new bid for inclusion in the games, after bids to join the programmes of the games of 2012, 2016 and 2020 all ended in disappointment.
In the case of the Tokyo 2020 games, squash failed to make the shortlist of five sports included at the behest of the organising committee, after the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 reform programme for the first time gave host cities a say in the make-up of the programme.
However, it will be hoping for a more sympathetic hearing from Paris 2024 under the World Squash Federation’s French president Jacques Fontaine. Fontaine is a board member of the CNOSF, the French national Olympic committee. N Ramachandran, the previous president, was singled out by some for criticism after he was perceived to have attempted to run previous campaigns single-handedly.
Fontaine said of the Weber Shandwick appointment: “Becoming a Summer Olympic medal sport has been a long-time dream and goal for the sport of squash. We are engaging in our fourth bid to be included in the Games’ programme, with more passion and a clearer vision than ever before. Given Weber Shandwick’s vast Olympic experience and its innovative, forward-looking approach, the agency is the preferred partner to help us make the case for our sport.”
The campaign follows the signing last September of a memorandum of understanding between the WSF and PSA, aimed at allowing the two bodies “to work in unison towards achieving a joint vision for the future of squash on a global scale.”
Alex Gough, the PSA’s chief executive, said: “The Olympic ambition is a cornerstone of the unified structure that we created with WSF in order to expand squash’s international profile as a sport and grow it at both professional and grass roots levels. Weber Shandwick’s appointment will greatly support us in achieving our joint goal and communicating our cohesive vision.”
Weber Shandwick’s Olympic experience includes working on the successful Los Angeles 2028, Beijing 2022, Tokyo 2020 and Sochi 2014 bids.
Svetlana Picou, chair, global Olympic and sport affairs at Weber Shandwick, said: “The sport of squash has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, becoming truly innovative, inclusive and urban, while preserving its qualities as a well-established sport. Squash is a perfect blend of unique sport heritage and excitement of the new. We look forward to helping WSF and PSA demonstrate why squash will be an excellent and complementary addition to the programme, and how it embodies Olympic Agenda 2020.”
Squash's chances of inclusion in Paris are strong if the result of a poll conducted by L'Equipe are anything to go by. The French newspaper ran an online poll between 28 November and 3 December last year asking readers what additional sport they would like to see in 2024. Squash received 19 per cent of the vote, ahead of sport climbing (17 per cent), karate (16 per cent), surfing (11 per cent) and boules (10 per cent).
At its session in Lima, Peru in September, the IOC membership backed an executive board proposal that the 28 sports on the programme for Rio 2016 will be replicated in Paris, meaning a third successive games for golf and rugby sevens.
The Paris 2024 organising committee is now permitted to begin discussions about which additional sports it would like to add to the programme, and present these to the IOC executive board. The members will then be asked to back those sports' inclusion at the 2019 IOC session in Milan, Italy.Sportcal