SBD/Issue 19/Olympics

Golf's Inclusion In Olympics Not Secure After Rio Selection

Michelle Wie Will Campaign
For Golf At IOC Session
The IOC tomorrow will vote to determine whether golf and rugby will be added to the Olympic platform starting with the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games, and golf's inclusion "does not look to be quite such a sure thing," according to John Hopkins of the LONDON TIMES. The IOC exec board in August voted in favor of the two sports joining the Olympics, and tomorrow's vote was "thought to be almost a formality." But there is a feeling that Rio "may not be the best venue to showcase a sport such as golf because the game is not widely played in Brazil." Both golf and rugby will make 20-minute presentations to IOC members prior to tomorrow's vote in Copenhagen, and golf's bid will be led by PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int’l Affairs Ty Votaw, R&A CEO Peter Dawson and golfers Padraig Harrington, Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen and Matteo Manassero. Tiger Woods is not attending the presentation due to the Presidents Cup, but he will "address the IOC in a videotaped message." Votaw, who is leading the Int'l Golf Federation's Olympic committee, said, "We have demonstrated to the IOC executive board throughout the evaluation process that golf’s bid to become an Olympic sport has received unprecedented support from both amateur and professional golf organisations around the world and leading international players. Now we must reaffirm this support before the full IOC membership" (LONDON TIMES, 10/8).

MAKING THEIR PITCH: The AP's Mattias Karen noted both golf and rugby "need majority approval in separate votes by the full IOC assembly of 106 members." Golf officials consider the Olympics a "way to spread the game to developing countries and increase its popularity in South America and Africa." Rugby officials also are "looking to increase the fan base, and both sports will benefit from better sponsorship deals and government funding in countries that only give public support to Olympic sports" (AP, 10/6). In Manchester, Owen Gibson noted some IOC members are concerned about "whether the Olympics would be the pinnacle of achievement for golfers ahead of the four majors." But Dawson said, "We have been able to allay that fear by emphasising the broad support among the world's top players. There is only one Olympic tournament for every 16 majors." Meanwhile, the Int'l Rugby Board "looks sure to win approval for rugby sevens after promising to ditch the format's World Cup if it wins inclusion" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 10/7).

READY FOR THE GOLD JACKET? PGATOUR.com's Stan Awtrey wrote there is "no reason to believe" golf will not be approved. While some IOC members wonder "whether making golf an official sport would elevate the status of a gold medal" for golfers, they would be "short-sided to base their decision on such criteria." IOC members need to "look deeper and think about how golf's inclusion in the Olympic Games would help the sport on an international level." Awtrey noted it "probably won't hurt the push" that Argentina's Angel Cabrera and South Korea's Y.E. Yang won two of golf's four majors in '09 (PGATOUR.com, 10/7). However, Cabrera indicated that there is not a "suitable course in Rio -- or Brazil -- to handle a major golf event." Cabrera: "There are not any in Rio right now." He added that there "may be some logistical challenges for Brazil to host golf as an Olympic sport." Cabrera: "They would probably have to build (a course)" (GOLFWEEK.com, 10/6).

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