Impressing the IOC

• Cathay Pacific •  Sun Hung Kai Financial •  Hong Kong Open 2012 • 25 Nov - 02 Dec  • 

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Hong Kong 2012 News: #1
Hong Kong all set to impress
the IOC on the Harbour ...

As part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) process to determine which of the sports it has shortlisted should claim a place on the programme for the 2020 Olympiad, each of the seven candidates sports are due to receive an IOC ‘inspection’ at one of their high-profile events over the final few months of 2012.

In squash’s case the event that has been chosen is the ever-popular
Hong Kong Open, which is being held from 25th November to 2nd December.

“It was an honour for us to be chosen as the IOC inspection event,” said
Mr David Mui, MH, JP, Chairman of HK Squash, “but with that comes a responsibility to present the tournament, and the sport, in its best possible light to the IOC delegation to ensure that squash gets the chance we all feel it deserves to become part of the Olympic programme.

“Hong Kong Squash is very proud to hold the Hong Kong Open for the 27th time,” added Mr Mui. “All have been sponsored by
Cathay Pacific and recently joined by Sun Hung Kai Financial, and the tournament is a major sporting event in Hong Kong each year and presents the very best players in the world.

“The waterfront setting really shows the world the spectacular Victoria Harbour. We bring squash to the people rather than bringing people to squash.

“We look forward to welcoming the inspectors from the IOC to our championships and can assure them that they will enjoy Hong Kong, and that they will see another great year of the Hong Kong Open.”

One of the longest-standing events on the world scene, the Hong Kong Open has been held since 1985 and is one of the few tournaments which brings the world’s best men and women together in two top-tier tournaments - the equivalent of one of tennis’ Grand Slam events.

Hong Kong Squash Centre, located in the Central district on the edge of the beautiful Hong Kong Park, provides the ideal venue with its abundant glassback courts and a three-glass-walled Centre Court that provides a unique atmosphere and has been the scene of many a dramatic match in front of a passionate and knowledgeable crowds.

In recent years the venue for the final stages - semi-finals and finals - have been alternated between two equally spectacular settings:
Plaza Hollywood Shopping Mall in Kowloon, its central plaza with three tiers, provides a great view of world class squash for Hong Kong’s many aficionados and for thousands of passers-by .

The ‘other’ location provides one of the most spectacular venues for any sporting event. Sitting alongside
Hong Kong Cultural Centre on the harbour front Piazza, world class squash is played out to the backdrop of Hong Kong Island across Victoria Harbour, with the spectacularly lit skyscrapers, seemingly nestling at the foot of the mountains, providing an awe-inspiring sight for players, spectators and passers-by alike.

And that's where this year's event will be concluded.

All the great names of the sport have played in Hong Kong, but two names dominate recent events - Amr Shabana won five successive events including the second of his four World Open titles from 2005 to 2009, while Malaysian superstar Nicol David has won seven in a row and will start hot favourite for an eighth title this year.

We’ll be talking to those and other players in future articles in this series as the event draws near, but for now attention is focused on preparations for the IOC inspection.

“It was a mixture of delight and apprehension when we were told that we were to be the inspection event,” said
Karl Mak, Executive Director of Hong Kong Squash.

“On the one hand it was an honour to feel that the Hong Kong Open would be used as a showcase event, but on the other we know we have to make every possible effort to make this year’s event special with a hope that the whole sport can look forward to being part of a wonderful occasion every four years.

“The balloons, the rattles and an extra large supply of Hong Kong’s famous custard tarts are already ordered,” added Mak,” a combination which the IOC delegation surely won’t be able to resist!”

As a centrepiece in the World Squash Federation’s bid for Olympic inclusion, after narrow failures in the last two processes, the sport’s governing body is confident that Hong Kong can deliver:

“We couldn’t have been happier that the IOC selected Hong Kong for the squash leg of its inspection tour,” said WSF CEO
Andrew Shelley. “The tournament and the venue have long been recognised as one of the favourite and best organised events, and we have every confidence that the Hong Kong Squash team will do us proud once again.

“All the elements that have made the sport so much stronger in recent years will be in evidence in Hong Kong - the all-glass court, video review system, vastly improved streaming and TV coverage, and we’re confident that the event will be exactly what the IOC are looking for in a candidate sport.

“We’ve filled in the questionnaire, we are preparing our presentation to the Programme Commission, we have produced a stunning bid video. We've done our bit, and now we look forward to the show in Hong Kong,” concluded Shelley with a wry grin ...

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Impressing the IOC

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