The oldest professional squash championship – the Tournament of Champions – will not take place in 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The tournament was first held in 1930 and was previously known as the US Professional Championships. The women’s competition began in 2001.
Hosted in New York City, the event has been held at iconic Grand Central Terminal, in a specially-constructed four-walled glass court in the Vanderbilt Hall since 1995.
The health and safety challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA meant that it was not viable to host a professional sporting event in Grand Central Terminal.
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) remain fully committed to staging the Tournament of Champions in 2022, when it sponsors J.P. Morgan’s renewed three-year title sponsorship of the prestigious tournament will commence.
“The Tournament of Champions is the oldest professional squash championship in the world and has only been interrupted by World War II and the few years that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis led the movement to preserve and renovate Grand Central Terminal. We are quite disappointed for the global squash community and all of the top professional players that 2021 will mark another forced interruption,” said Tournament Promoter John Nimick.
“Grand Central Terminal is one of the most unique venues in squash as it is a major transit hub and completely public and, as such, there were a range of factors we had to consider when making this decision, with the health and safety of everyone involved at the forefront of our thinking.
The tournament that offered USD 190,000 prize money each for the men’s and women’s competition, was supposed to start on January 9th.
Top players including both the men’s and women’s world number ones Ali Farag and Raneem El Welily were expected to lead a star studded line-up at the championships.
While the PSA successfully conducted a series of major events in the middle-east over the last couple of months, the situation in the USA is another matter. The number of new cases and deaths in the USA has spiked tremendously recently with more than 10 million Americans already infected.
Despite the news of at least three vaccines being ready, it is highly unlikely it would be readily available for all by January.