ASK any squash player at the Men’s World Championship how Qatar rate as hosts and the answer is unanimous: “Qatar are excellent hosts.”
Squash is nowhere near being a major sport in the world and only the Platinum-level Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour events receive some semblance of global attention.
Yet Qatar, as hosts of the annual Qatar Classic since 1998 as well as of the world meet for the fifth time, have really taken things to a different level.
Perhaps, it is a blessing that the Qatar Squash Federation merged with the Qatar Tennis Federation in 2017.
Thanks to that, squash players now receive excellent hospitality — akin to that of their tennis cousins.
The players are accorded five-star treatment right from the moment they arrive at the airport, where a fleet of limousines awaits to chauffeur them individually to their hotel as well to the courts and back.
Can any other hosts boast of such a service?
In Qatar, each player also gets his own room, whereas in other tournaments two players usually share a room as per the PSA regulations.
That’s not all. All the top four seeds are even upgraded to presidential suites, which cost a bomb — up to 50,000 riyals (RM57,000) per night!
Qatar have also spared no expense in making sure the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex is an excellent venue, with top-notch facilities and large billboards and signboards touting the world meet.
All these efforts for a sport that has tried and failed to get into the Olympics numerous times.
“We are really proud to host one of the biggest tournaments in the world and we owe it to ourselves to ensure that the level of organisation is of the highest standard,” said Qatar Tennis and Squash Federation secretary-general Tariq Zainal.
“What we do here benefits Qatar and also to promote squash internationally as all the players are happy. I’ve received feedback from the players that this is the first time they’ve seen such a high standard of event organising.
“It’s always been our goal to set the bar high, ever since the squash federation merged with tennis in 2017.
“This is also to help the sport grow so that, hopefully, one day we’ll make it to the Olympics.”
The bar has been set high by Qatar. Can the other countries, including Malaysia, rise to the challenge?