Golf, Rugby Added to 2016 Olympics

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

COPENHAGEN (AP) — All those beautiful beaches and Tiger Woods, too!

After more than a century on the sidelines, golf will return to the Olympics at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Rugby, last played in 1924, is coming back as well.

Both were reinstated for the 2016 and 2020 games after a vote Friday by the International Olympic Committee.

Each sport received majority support in separate votes after leading athletes and officials from both camps gave presentations, including a taped video message from Woods and other top pros. Woods has indicated he would play in the Olympics if golf were accepted for 2016.

"There are millions of young golfers worldwide who would be proud to represent their country," Woods said from the Presidents Cup in San Francisco. "It would be an honor for anyone who plays this game to become an Olympian."

Golf was approved 63-27 with two abstentions. Rugby was voted in 81-8 with one abstention.

Golf will stage a 72-hole stroke-play tournament for men and women, with 60 players in each field. Rugby will organize a four-day seven-a-side tournament — instead of the more traditional 15-a-side game — for 12 men's and women's teams.

Padraig Harrington and Michelle Wie addressed the IOC in person before the vote. Wie talked about starting to play golf when she was 4 but never being able to dream of an Olympic medal until now.

"I can dream about doing something that neither Tiger nor Ernie (Els) have ever done, and that is to make the final putt to win an Olympic gold medal," Wie said. "If this dream comes true, somewhere in the world there will be another 4-year-old who sees me on that podium and perhaps starts her own Olympic dream."

Rugby officials touted their sport as a modern game that can attract young fans and new sponsors.

"The sevens format is made for television, made for sponsors, and most importantly loved for fans and players alike," said bid leader Mike Miller, the secretary-general of the International Rugby Board.

Golf gave a commitment to the IOC that it would not stage any major championships on the Olympic dates. The Rugby Sevens World Cup will be canceled if the sport is added to the Olympics.

They are the first new sports added since triathlon and taekwondo joined the program for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The vote was a reversal of the IOC's decision four years ago to reject golf and rugby for the 2012 Olympics, and brings the number of summer Olympic sports back to 28. There have been two openings on the program since baseball and softball were dropped in 2005 for the 2012 London Games.

Rugby and golf both made their Olympic debuts at the second modern games in Paris in 1900. Golf was played again only at the 1904 St. Louis Games, while 15-a-side rugby featured three more times, making its last appearance in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Their status for the 2020 Olympics will be reviewed by the IOC in 2017.

Friday's vote also was a victory for Jacques Rogge, the IOC president who was re-elected to a final four-year term hours earlier. The 67-year-old Belgian, the president since 2001, was the only candidate.

"Time will show your decision (on the new sports) was very wise," Rogge said.

Golf and rugby were put forward by the executive board in August under Rogge's guidance, at the expense of five other sports that were cut — baseball, softball, squash, karate and roller sports.

The selection process angered some IOC members, who wanted all seven sports put to a vote by the entire assembly. Senior Canadian member Dick Pound complained before the vote that the members were never told why the two sports were selected over the other five.

"It is not fair to the other five sports," Pound said. "Because you decided the way you did, it is not a transparent process."

The new selection system was put in place after the IOC failed to agree on which two sports should be added to the 2012 program, leaving the London Games with 26 sports instead of the usual 28. A similar failure this time would have been a blow to Rogge and the executive board.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
KOLO-TV 4850 Ampere Drive Reno, NV 89502
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 63898107