ISLAMABAD - Former world squash champion Qamar Zaman expressed his utmost displeasure and shock over non-inclusion of squash in the Olympics, instead wrestling was given the nod.

In an interview with The Nation on Tuesday, Qamar said: “This news was like a bombshell for the squash lovers and especially the players, who were hoping that finally their contributions towards promotion of the game will be recognised and squash will be included in Olympic calendar.”

“Only in Asia, around 22 countries participate at Asian level and the number of teams rose to 32 when it comes to holding of world squash championship. This grave injustice to squash by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will serve no purpose to the game which is gaining fast popularity with each passing day.

“It will be very disappointing for Pakistani players, as world squash championship in 2015 is most likely to be held in the country. The players were training very hard and wanted to win medal for the country, as Pakistan’s only real Olympic medal hope remains hockey. If squash was also included in the Olympics, Pakistan had bright chances of winning gold medal,” Qamar stated.

He said in the past, squash was not even considered for inclusion in Olympics because of Pakistan’s complete dominance in this game but now things had changed. “There is hardly any Pakistani player who managed to win a major title for almost two decades. Now players from Australia, England, France, Holland, Canada and Egypt started dominating squash across the world so in this scenario, the non-inclusion of squash in Olympics is hard to digest,” he asserted.

He said the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) must contact other federations of the world to raise their voice at the highest level. “At least strong protest must be registered with the IOC thought the games’ ruling body has its own priorities and charter, yet the ground realities must be taken into consideration when it comes to take major decisions.”

“I will talk to former greats and legends in my own capacity and soon we will announce a joint course of action. We will not sit back to watch this game being neglected badly and I am confident our voice will compel them to reconsider their decision,” Qamar concluded.

Meanwhile, Pakistan squash team head coach Jamshed Gul Khan said: “Squash is being played in 187 countries of the world and all those have rendered their all-out support to World Squash Federation (WSF) to plead the squash case while the world’s top athletes also pleaded the case in the IOC which was presented exceptionally well, but the reasons best known to the IOC why they took such decision which disappointed the entire world squash community.”

World Squash Federation (WSF) president N Ramachandran, who led the game’s presentation at the IOC session in Buenos Aires, termed the squash exclusion decision as heart-breaking for the millions of squash players around the world, particularly given the 10-year long journey to join the Olympic Games Sports Programme.

When this scribe contacted PSF secretary Wing Commander Abdul Wahab Marwat to seek federation’s point of view, he said: “Like every squash lover, we are also very disappointed over this harsh decision but we still believe that the game may still be added in the Olympics.”