Figures from throughout the squash community have expressed their shock at the sport's omission from recommended sports ©Getty Images

World Squash Federation (WSF) President N Ramachandran has admitted to insidethegames how he found his sport's absence from the list of five recommended for Tokyo 2020 Olympic inclusion "difficult to understand", accepting that frustration with the campaign's failure is "understandable".

Squash was one of three nominated sports to not be recommended by Tokyo's Additional Events Programme Panel, along with bowling and wushu.

Baseball and softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing were the five put forward, with more deliberations to be made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ahead of a final decision set for next summer's IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro.

Although admitting to being "utterly devastated" immediately afterwards, the governing body were magnaminous in their reaction and this statement therefore represents the first example of any implied criticism of the decision.

But with squash now having failed in three successive races to be added, questions have been raised as to the role played by the sport's leaders and whether a shake-up is now required.

England's Nick Matthew, a three-time world champion and current world ranked number two, has been among these voices of dissent, suggesting that the Professional Squash Association (PSA), who manage the World Tour, should assume responsibility for the sport's Olympic aspirations from the WSF.

“Do the PSA, who have played such a big role in amalgamating the men’s and women’s Tours, and the growth in TV coverage, take front running now over the WSF?" he speculated.

“Despite the good work that has been done behind the scenes, maybe we [the PSA] need to become the front runners."

Nick Matthew has suggested changes could be made to the sport's handling of its Olympic campaign ©Getty Images
Nick Matthew has suggested changes could be made to the sport's handling of its Olympic campaign ©Getty Images

Ramachandran, the official who also heads the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), admitted that such questions were unsurprising in response to a question about these comments.

"Despite the fact that our WSF-led bid had the unanimous support of all parties in the sport, it is not surprising that some have voiced frustration at the decision over the last few days, which is understandable," he told insidethegames.

"In the meantime, we will continue to grow the sport and that, contrary to the impression given by the 2020 decision-makers, is flourishing on all continents - not only attracting new players but also TV audiences and growing crowds at some of the world’s most iconic locations."

Ramachandran, whose year has also been clouded by an attempted but so far unsuccessful overthrow of his IOA Presidency by domestic rivals, suggested the proposal was the latest in a growing list of instances when the sport had been unfairly overlooked.

"There is no question that I and the whole of the WSF - indeed all those who play squash either recreationally or professionally - are extremely disappointed that our bid to become part of the Olympic Games has been rejected yet again," he added.

"Back in 2007 the IOC membership voted us the top 'new' sport of the six in contention for the 2012 Games, but we lost out.

"Four years later we narrowly lost out to rugby sevens and golf [for inclusion at Rio 2016] and a further four years on we were shortlisted as a 'new' sport ahead of rock climbing, karate and roller sports, before being sidelined again when the IOC reintroduced its "old" sport wrestling.

"When given a lifeline by the IOC and Tokyo 2020, we presented a strong case - confirming low cost and highlighting domestic medal potential via two top world juniors from Japan.

"We even offered to provide the two all-glass show courts free as a legacy.

"Yet, the final outcome was that previously eliminated sports have been nominated, we find this difficult to understand."

N Ramachandran has defended the WSF campaign but admitted the omission is
N Ramachandran has defended the WSF campaign but admitted the omission is "difficult to understand" ©Getty Images

Other figures have offered their support to the WSF and its campaign, with Malaysian superstar Nicol David claiming in a video how they had done "everything in their power" to showcase the sport.

Writing on a personal blog, England's former world number one James Willstrop launched a thinly-veiled assault on some of the sports chosen over squash, describing how it was "acid enough to play second fiddle to golf and rugby sevens, but at least people who asked us understood that they are established and recognised entities".

Legendary Pakistani former world number one Jansher Khan has also supported the WSF before strongly criticising the Tokyo decision.

“Squash is a global game, and it should’ve gained entry in the Olympics,” he told The Express Tribune

“The whole system is in place but yet their efforts have been overlooked.

"The 2020 organisers and the IOC have done a big injustice to the sport.”

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September 2015: Five sports recommended for inclusion at Tokyo 2020 Olympics~
September 2015European under-23 squash tour launched to help young players fulfill their potential
September 2015: Squash's Tournament of Champions to offer equal prize money for men and women for first time
September 2015: Ramachandran stripped of Indian Government award for allegedly lying about nomination criteria