Two months remain before the start of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Though snooker has yet to be featured in the Olympics, Daily News Egypt met with Maxime Cassis, vice-president of the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF) and chairperson of the European Billiards and Snooker Association (EBSA), to find out what is in store for the sport.
Cassis explains that although the sport was not chosen to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the IBSF hopes the sport will be selected in the 2024 Olympics.
What is the IBSF doing to promote the sport of snooker throughout the world?
We organise events for juniors, men, women, people over 40, and teams. We also provide coaching for all these categories.
In addition, we are helping various countries establish academies in order to promote the game. We provide these countries with referees, as we hope to set a universal system for the sport.
What else are you doing to apply a universal system for the sport’s referees?
We organised a seminar to train local referees in Egypt and Africa. The same was done in Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and China.
Has there been any attempt to include the sport in the Olympics?
This is a big goal of ours and we have been working on it for a long time. Though it is not an Olympic game, it is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a sport.
In each Olympics, two new games are introduced, which include one local game, and another one selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Snooker was among 20 sports nominated to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Seven sports were then short-listed, but we were not among them.
So we are working to include the sport in the 2024 Olympic Games, or at least to demonstrate it, as we need it to be shown.
We are going to participate, for the fifth time, in the next World Games, which will take place in Poland in July 2017. These games are organised by the International World Games Association (IWGA) and members of the IOC will be present. I see this as a good opportunity for us, as they will see how our sport is organised, and this may encourage them to include it in the 2024 Olympic Games.
Which country is the strongest in the sport?
I can say China, as Chinese champions have been performing well recently.
The proof is clear. During the semifinals of the 2016 Betfred World Snooker Championship, which took place in the English city of Sheffield, China’s Ding Junhui and Hong Kong’s Marco Fu qualified.
Junhui made it to the final, where he lost to England’s Mark Selby. However, the results were close.
In the 2015 World Amateur Snooker Championship, which took place in Egypt, the final was between India’s Pankaj Arjan Advani and China’s Zhao Xintong. Although Advani won the championship, Xintong performed very well.
In the 2013 World Amateur Snooker Championship, which took place in Latvia, China’s Zhou Yuelong took the title. The following year in India another Chinese, Yan Bingtao, also won.