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Golf voted into Olympics

10 October, 2009

Golf voted into Olympics

10th October 2009

Golf and rugby sevens have been voted on to the programme for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The International Olympic Committee's executive board voted to include both two months ago and the full membership confirmed the decision on Friday.

IOC president Jacques Rogge told delegates: "Time will show your decision was very wise."

Golf's inclusion was welcomed by Europe's Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who spoke to the IOC in Lausanne in June.

"I am so delighted to hear that golf has been approved to be in the Olympics in 2016. I am proud to have been a part of the process and it is a credit to everyone who has lent their support to this process," he said. "I have made my support very clear and I think this is a very significant moment for the game of golf, and all of the players who are lucky enough to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games will be part of a truly unique experience."

The Republic of Ireland's three-time major winner Padraig Harrington told a news conference in Copenhagen that the Olympics would soon surpass the majors in importance.

"I do believe in time the Olympic gold will become the most important event in golf and I don't believe it will take that long," he said. "In the four years between the Olympics there will be 16 majors, so winning gold will be that much more special."

The inclusion of the two sports was welcomed by British Olympic chief Andy Hunt, who added that both would provide medal opportunities for Great Britain in Rio de Janeiro.

"We are delighted that both golf and rugby sevens have been given the opportunity to take part in the ultimate celebration of sport at the Rio 2016 Olympics," said the British Olympic Association chief executive.

"We currently have a wealth of talented British male and female players moving through (golf's) amateur ranks and are very excited at the prospect of what these young athletes could achieve at Olympic level.

The vote on the inclusion of the two sports - which includes the 2020 Games as well as 2016 - had originally been due at 1100 GMT at the IOC's congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Both sports were part of the Games programme in the early part of the twentieth century before being dropped, and golf returns to the Games for the first time since the St Louis Olympics of 1904.

One of the main issues had been whether top players would compete in the Olympics but the game's brightest star, Tiger Woods, had indicated on Tuesday he would play.

Golf's presentation video included stars of past and present including Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Woods.

"It's win-win for both sides - golf is such a global sport. I couldn't think of a better sport to be part of the Olympic Games," said Woods.

The presentation party on the day included 16-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, the 2009 British amateur champion, and American Michelle Wie, who said it would be a "dream" to play in the Olympics.

Wie said: "I can dream about being an Olympian, and I can dream of doing something not even Tiger or Ernie has ever done, that is to make the putt to win the gold medal."

Nicklaus, an 18-time major winner, said: "All of us who have spent our lives playing and enjoying the game of golf fully understand why it deserved a spot on the Olympic programme.

"Now the sport I have always called the greatest game of all can be shared with the rest of the world on the greatest stage in sports."

From: BBC


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