Harrington and Lomu involved in presentations to IOC members

October 7, 2009

But the recommendation must be rubber-stamped by a full meeting of the IOC congress in Copenhagen.

Top golfers Padraig Harrington and Michelle Wie and Kiwi rugby great Jonah Lomu will be part of their sport’s final presentations.

And the IOC congress will have a yes/no vote on the inclusion of each sport at 1200 BST.

Softball, squash, baseball, karate and roller sports were also in contention for Olympic spots until being eliminated by the executive board vote in August.

Golf was played at the Paris Games in 1900 – when Walter Rutherford and David Robertson won silver and gold respectively for Great Britain – and four years later in St Louis, but has never returned to the Olympic agenda.

One of the main issues has been whether top players will compete in the Olympics when they already have a full schedule, but superstar Tiger Woods indicated on Tuesday he would play.

“We have demonstrated that golf’s bid to become an Olympic sport has received unprecedented support from golf organisations and leading players,” said Ty Votaw, executive director of the International Golf Federation’s Olympic Golf Committee.

“Now we must reaffirm this support before the full IOC membership.”

The proposed format would be a 72-hole strokeplay competition for men and women, with 60 players in each field. The world’s top 15 players would qualify automatically, and all major professional tours would alter tournament schedules to avoid a clash with the Olympics.

IOC president Jacques Rogge believes winning an Olympic gold medal will remain one of the main ambitions for top golfers, despite the traditional lure of the four major championships – the Masters, the Open, the US Open and the USPGA.

Rogge said in August: “This is the young generation that will be at its peak in 2016. The same question was raised time and time again when tennis and ice hockey were introduced.

“Ask [top tennis players] Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, ask the NHL players, ask the NBA basketball players. They all want to go to the Games – they are absolutely not concerned about that.”

Rugby union, which was played in four different Olympics between 1900 and 1924 in the full 15-a-side format, will play the seven-a-side version for both men and women.

The International Rugby Board would scrap its Sevens World Cup to ensure the Olympics is the sport’s top event. Sevens rugby is already part of the Commonwealth Games.

Lomu believes that the high-paced action, festival atmosphere and global appeal of the sevens format is the perfect fit for the Olympic Games.

“It would be fantastic for rugby and fantastic for the Games,” said the winger, who won a Sevens gold medal with New Zealand at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

“Playing in the Commonwealth Games was a major highlight of my career and it gave me a taste of what it must be like as part of the Olympic family competing on the world’s greatest sporting stage.

“I was captivated and I just wish I could have competed for an Olympic gold medal.              

“Sevens certainly has all the right ingredients. It is explosive, exciting, unpredictable and due to its highly-competitive nature, it gives the opportunity for smaller rugby nations to win a medal.”

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