Thursday,22 March, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1274, (10 - 16 December 2015)
Thursday,22 March, 2018
Issue 1274, (10 - 16 December 2015)

Ahram Weekly

No players, no tournament

Egypt was forced to cancel a major world squash event after almost nobody showed up, Inas Mazhar reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt had to scratch the hosting of the 2015 WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship after 13 countries withdrew, citing security concerns.

It was the second time that Egypt, the best in the world in squash, had to shelve a major world squash event held at home.

Egypt was scheduled to host the Women’s World Juniors Championship in August, but because of security concerns, the event was moved to The Netherlands.

The Egyptians felt justice had been served when, as perceived compensation, the World Squash Federation (WSF) awarded Egypt the right to host the world men’s teams event which was scheduled to be held in Kuwait. The WSF moved the event from Kuwait after the IOC suspended the Gulf nation.

The ESF felt it was vindicated and held an international press conference which was attended by Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz, giving the tournament government backing.

However, as this week unfolded, a few nations began to pullout of the championship, in total reaching 13. With only six countries remaining, it was deemed impossible to stage the event, which was due to take place later this month in Cairo.

The WSF was not involved in the decision to cancel; it was the Egyptian Squash Federation (ESF) which made the announcement.

“We request this postponement with a heavy heart as Cairo is a safe city,” ESF president Assem Khalifa officially told the WSF.

“All arrangements for the holding of the event are in place, including full government support to ensure protection as would be afforded to visiting VIPs, and so there is no reason for the championship not to proceed.

“However, we are mindful that some teams did not wish to attend the championship for their own reasons. So we wish to end any uncertainty for other nations in a positive way by postponing until a later date. It pains us to do so as there is no reason for this. Many teams have incurred costs, but it is something we must do to be fair to all.”

WSF President N. Ramachandran responded on the official WSF website: “It is distressing that this event in the wonderful city of Cairo is being postponed. We can only thank the Egyptian Federation again for stepping in to take it on at short notice after the Kuwait NOC suspension by IOC required us to relocate.

“We will liaise with all member nations after we have taken stock of the position. For now, we accept the decision of our esteemed Egyptian partners and express our disappointment to them and the many nations that were in expectation of what would have been a superb championship.”

The WSF Referee Conference, which was due to precede the championship, was similarly postponed.

Security fears could have been heightened in the wake of the crash of a Russian passenger jet over Sinai on 31 October which killed all 224 people on board, mostly Russians.

Although the investigation is still ongoing, several reports indicated that a bomb might have been planted in the plane’s baggage compartment shortly before the plane took off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

On the other hand, and perhaps a well-timed reply, Egypt maintained dominating the sport and confirmed its superiority when Mohamed Al-Shorbagi successfully defended his Hong Kong title by knocking down his rival Cameron Pilley in straight games 11-8, 11-6, 11-8.

The 24-year-old Egyptian was the world’s top ranked player until he lost his top spot after a third round exit at last month’s PSA World Championship.

 “Winning a major final is always a great feeling and I really wanted to come here and defend the title I won last year,” Al-Shorbagi told the WSF website.

www“Cameron has had a great week, beating Greg and Nick especially, but I am pleased with how I was able to put it all together this week and especially tonight. I feel like I’ve dealt well with the tournament mentally all week and I’m very happy to win and end the year on a high.” Al-Shorbagi added.

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