Looking beyond Lockdown : Hong Kong postponed, PSL season cancelled, Qatar Confirmed

As Squash starts to emerge from the Coronavirus lockdown, we’ll be collecting news from across the globe …

Read on to check out the news and guidelines they come available …

England Squash Back to Squash  | Scottish Squash Toolkit  | US Squash Roadmap  | WSF Guidelines

16-Qoc, Qatar Classic confirmed

The PSA has confirmed that the Qatar Classic – announced as part of the provisional PSA World Tour calendar – will go ahead as scheduled from 1st to 7th November in Doha, Qatar.

The Qatar Classic will be the second men’s PSA World Tour Platinum tournament of the 2020-21 season and will adhere to the same COVID-19 protocols in place at all three previous PSA World Tour events since the restart. It will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (rest of world) and the channels of contracted broadcasters.

14-Oct, Hong Kong Open postponed, PSL season cancelled

02-Sep, Women’s World Teams postponed

The WSF has announced that the 2020 WSF World Women’s Team Championships have been postponed due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The 22nd edition of the biennial event was scheduled at the 10-court Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre in Kuala Lumpur from 15th to 20th December 2020 but due to the health and safety concerns during this global pandemic, the Malaysian government announced that they have extended their ‘Recovery Movement Control Order’ until 31st December 31 and therefore no events allowing international participation will take place in the country until 2021.

The WSF will continue to work with SRAM for the rescheduling of the World Women’s Team Championships and the possibility to host the 2020 WSF World Junior Championships in the 1st quarter of 2021 will be also discussed at the upcoming Executive Committee and Board meetings.

01-Sep, British Junior Open Cancelled

England Squash has announced the British Junior Open 2021, scheduled to take place in Birmingham from 2-6 January, has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The prestigious major event attracts more than 600 of the world’s finest junior athletes from 55 different nations as far as New Zealand and Japan.

“It is with great regret that we announce the cancellation of next year’s British Junior Open,” said Keir Worth, CEO at England Squash.

“The ongoing pandemic and the restrictions on international travel pose a major risk, and the health and safety of athletes, spectators and all those involved is paramount in these unprecedented times.

“This decision was not made lightly and the organising committee has explored all viable options to safely host this historic tournament but the unpredictability of COVID-19 makes it logistically untenable.

“We look forward to hosting the event in 2022 when the Commonwealth Games comes to Birmingham and to provide a spectacular showcase for squash.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Squash has confirmed the cancellation of the Scottish Junior Open, which was scheduled to be held in the buildup to the BJO from 28-30 December.

25-Aug, looking forward in England

Fed up with ‘sides’ ? England Squash are fleshing out what happens next …

10-Aug : Women’s World Teams ‘not looking promising’ …

The Women’s World Team Squash Championships, scheduled in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 15-20, will likely be cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, writes Kng Zheng Guan in the New Straits Times.

India are the first country to withdraw from the tournament and other nations are expected to follow suit. Several top nations such as England, France, the United States and Hong Kong are facing uphill struggles to contain the pandemic.

Egypt won the title in 2018 in China

Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Major (Rtd) S. Maniam admitted that the situation does not look promising.

“One of the stumbling blocks is that our government has not given us the green light to organise an event of that magnitude,” said Maniam. “The World Squash Federation (WSF) will give us the full list of entries by Aug 15. We will decide by the end of this month.”

Maniam also added that the Covid-19 situation has made it rather difficult to plan for events too far ahead.

31-Jul : Scotland prepares for return

While English courts have been open for a week – despite further restrictions being imposed on some Northern areas this weekend – Scotland is looking forward to a resumption of Squash.

Scottish Squash ‘prepare for return’

24-Jul : US Open Cancelled

US Open Cancelled

14-Jul : Guidelines for return to court on 25th in England

England Squash has published full guidance and resources for clubs, venues and coaches for the return to play ahead of courts opening in England on 25 July.

14-Jul : Setback in Hong Kong

Courts have been open for several weeks in Hong Kong, but a recent rise in cases – a “third wave” – has seen restrictions reimposed which mean that courts will close for a week or more.

12-Jul : Opening up in South Africa

Having successfully appealed against Squash’s designation as a ‘contact sport’, Squash South Africa is ready for training and matches to commence …

11-Jul : Malaysia gears up for competition

09-Jul : Hope emerges in UK

As the UK lockdown eases, English and Scottish squash players finally got some good news today as the government announced the reopening of Gyms, Leisure Centres and some Indoor Sports from 25th July (Scotland and Wales may differ).

Whether this actually covers squash is still to be confirmed, but England Squash and Scottish Squash are on the case, and further news and detailed guidance will be coming out shortly … stay tuned !

06-Jul: Local Leagues resume in Isle of Man

Read the full story

03-Jul: Mauritius cancelled as to leave August empty

The PSA has confirmed that the Necker Mauritius Open 2020  has been cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic – not a surprise, but still disappointing.

The PSA Gold tournament – which had been rescheduled to take place from 18-22 August, would have been the first PSA event to take place on the picturesque island.

The PSA had been working closely with the tournament promoters in order to hold the tournament following the disruption to the Tour, but border restrictions in place in Mauritius mean that a decision has been made to cancel the tournament, with the intention of holding the inaugural Mauritius Open in June 2021 instead.

“We have explored all possible alternatives but restrictions currently in place following the global outbreak of COVID-19 has left us with no choice but to cancel the 2020 edition of the Mauritius Open,” said Necker Gestion Privée Chief Executive, Rémy Mabillon.

“While we are naturally disappointed not to be able to invite the world’s leading players to Mauritius at this time, we are confident that we will be able to put on a real show in 2021 and look forward to unveiling our plans for the tournament in due course.”

25-Jun: Holland and France opening up …

The Dutch are looking forward to clubs reopening on 1st July, while France moved into full competition mode yesterday !!

24-Jun: South Africa sets out their ‘Return to Play’ plans

Check out the full South African plan (43-page pdf)

23-Jun: No UK movement in UK for now

UK squash players still have no end in sight – Scotland Squash reports that we must wait for “phase 3” at least, while in England Hotels, Pubs, Restaurants, Cinemas and Hairdressers (among others) can open in early July, but gyms, fitness clubs, most leisure centres and squash clubs (among others) remain closed for now.

Update 24-Jun: UK government looking at possible mid-July start for indoor fitness sector

18-Jun: Coming out in Canada

With restrictions easing, Squash Nova Scotia has updated their guidelines to allow limited match play, while Squash Canada has cautiously published a provisional calendar for their cancelled events, starting in early October.

16-Jun: Egypt opening up (for training)

15-Jun: PSA shutdown extended

The PSA has extended the suspension of the PSA Tour following the global COVID-19 pandemic has been extended and all World Tour, Challenger Tour and WSF & PSA Satellite Tour events originally planned to take place in July and at the start of August have been postponed.

The  Tour has been on hold since March 13, and following regular communication with tournament organisers and players, and with the health and safety of all players, promoters, fans and tournament staff in mind, the decision has been made to extend the suspension until mid-August.

Affected tournaments:
Victoria Open | Indian Tour – Noida Leg | Shepparton International  |Squash Melbourne Open

First tournament left on the Calendar : $100k Mauritius Open, 18-22 Aug (we have our doubts!)

“There are a number of uncertainties surrounding international travel, social distancing guidelines and potential quarantine measures for players and staff travelling internationally, which means that resuming the tour in the next six to eight weeks isn’t feasible at present,” said PSA Tour Director Hannah Ridgard-Mason.

“This is a difficult, but necessary, decision and we are naturally disappointed that we are not yet in a position to resume the PSA Tour following this global pandemic.

“However, the health and safety of all of our players and everyone involved in running an event is paramount. We continue to explore all available options as we look to outline a roadmap for the return of professional squash.”

San Francisco cancelled

The 2020 Oracle NetSuite Open – originally scheduled for September 22-28 – has been cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The event has been held annually since 2011, with the latter rounds of the tournament being staged on San Francisco’s Embarcadero Plaza in front of the famous Ferry Building.

“Unfortunately, the challenges arising from the COVID-19 outbreak have made it impossible to hold this year’s Oracle NetSuite Open,” said Tournament Promoter John Nimick.”

Both Evan [Goldberg, Founder and EVP of Oracle NetSuite] and I would like to thank all of our partners and supporters over the past eight years for their support in bringing the world’s best players to the Bay Area. Our tournament has become a major stop on the PSA World Tour and was one of the first Gold level events in the world to offer prize money parity.

“It is because of our partners that the Oracle NetSuite Open has made a positive impact on the world of squash. I am hopeful we will be able to showcase the world’s best in San Francisco once again next year and look forward to sharing our plans for the next instalment with all supporters in 2021.”

World Masters moves to 2021

The World Masters Squash Championships – originally postponed from August 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic – has been rescheduled to 15-21 August 2021. Additionally, the WSF has approved the qualifying age for the postponed event, which will remain as per the original start date of the event on 23 August 2020. This ensures that those who entered this year’s event still qualify for the same age group on the new dates.

The world’s biggest squash club, Hasta la Vista, will host the world’s leading Masters players, with a number of nationalities represented throughout all draws, while ages range from 35 to over 80 years old. Hasta la Vista is renowned for the the number of courts in one place (33 courts including two glass courts), by impressive facilities for players (such as a restaurant, spacious gym, fitness and physio facilities in total area of over 10,000 m2) and by its location in the beautiful and historic Polish city of Wroclaw.

UK : What might the ‘new’ squash be ?

Nice little article from Rob Ellis of SquashGear …

What might Coronavirus mean for squash in the UK?

Australia : June update

France : Confinement Guide

French Squash has issued a detailed guide for returning to squash activities as clubs in their ‘Green Zone’ begin to reopen …

Read the Guide (14-page pdf)

Australia : NSW clubs remain closed for now …

Egypt : Clubs reopening in June – with restrictions

WSF : Getting back to Squash

The World Squash Federation has published guidelines on how to get back to ‘normal’ in various stages …

WSF Covid-19 Recommendations

New Zealand moves to Level 2

New Zealand has reportedly contained and coped with the outbreak better than anyone, and on 13th May moves to “Level 2” (4 was ‘Eliminate, 3 was ‘restrict’ and 2 is ‘reduce’) which means the reopening of facilities within some fairly strict guidelines.

More on the Squash NZ Covid response     |  Club Activity Toolkit (very useful)

Turin “Coni Dossier” puts Squash in ‘Very High Risk’ category

With some countries publishing guidelines for when squash gets back, and others actually starting play, hopes of a quick and full return are possibly premature, with a report from the Polytechnic University of Turin suggesting more caution may be needed.

Called “Restarting Sport Safely”, the 400 page report was commissioned by the Italian National Olympic Committee and looks at the potential to spread the virus in over 300 sports. Sports governing bodies each completed a questionnaire covering all the risk factors, and the findings were used to produce a ‘league table’ with a risk score (0 to 4) allocated to each sport.

Report from IiFattoQuotidiano

Factors at the bottom – how’s your Italian ?

The amount of contact between players, the distances between them and the protection measures likely to be put in place had a significant bearing on each sports’ score, and squash fared badly … example scores :

0, no risk : golf, tennis, horse riding, fishing, sailing.
1, low risk : swimming, cycling,
2, average risk : water polo, beach volleyball
3, high risk : football, fencing.
4, very high risk : rugby, boxing, volleyball, basketball, squash

Other sports on the list have reacted – Water Polo claiming to be the least dangerous team sport, and Volleyball dismayed to be in the ‘most dangerous sports’ category.

The confined space, the proximity of the players to each other, heavy breathing and sweating helped to contribute to squash’s rating, but that won’t be much consolation to squash if governments and authorities use the list to help decide when to allow sports out of lockdown …

Malaysia – restrictions eased in Sabah

Hong Kong – squash centres open, plus limited competitions

No change in England … yet

Swiss Squash Clubs to reopen on 11th May !! 

It’s a great headline, but as countries such as Switzerland, Germany and USA start looking at easing restrictions and what might this mean for Squash Clubs and Players, the Swiss, US and Canadian guidelines make it certain it’s not going to be squash as we know it for a while yet

Meanwhile in Israel, Arthur Caplan reports on 7th May :   

I am pleased to tell you that Israel’s two largest squash clubs, the ones in Herzliya and Ra’Anana, renewed activity today.

Health precautions were in force but play was possible and demand was most encouraging.

Less encouraging news from the Netherlands via Milou van der Heijden :

Read on to check out the guidelines – we’re adding as they come available …

Switzerland

In Switzerland they’re looking at reopening sports clubs, with the guidelines adapted for a specific club, SIHLSPORTS.  In Germany the association is getting ready to publish their guidelines, and US Squash has developed a four-stage plan.

In brief, we’re looking at pre-booking visits to the club to control numbers, temperature checks and hand sanitisation on entry, restrictions on the types of play that is allowed, no showers and no bar/socialising, with departure from the club very shortly after ‘playing’.

Here’s some extracts from the SIHLSPORTS implementation …

Full Swiss Document (German) Swiss Squash-specific Guidelines

  Report from SquashNet (German)

USA

Meanwhile, US Squash has also issued guidelines for clubs when the time comes to reopen – here’s extracts from that …

Full US Squash report and Document

Swiss on court routines – video examples of what you can do

Squash Canada issues Guidelines for Clubs and Players

Here’s hoping we can all get back on court as soon as it’s safely possible ! We’ll update this with new guidelines and openings as we see them …