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Rugby in Olympic heaven, but golf yet to make the cut

OLYMPICS: BERLIN, Aug 15, 2005; - Rugby Union and golf may have just one more step to go before being fully accepted as Olympic sports for the 2016 Games but while the former is likely to win widespread backing the latter has a real fight on its hands. Rugby sailed through in the first vote on which two sports should be introduced to the Games but golf won just one vote in the first vote and then trailed karate for the majority of the vote for the second sport. Peter Dawson, head of the Royal and Ancient and joint general secretary of the International Golf Federation, admitted it was a real boost for the sport.

However doubts remain over whether golf would win support from a majority of IOC members in Copenhagen in October when the final vote for both sports is held.One IOC member said the lack of representation from golf’s power brokers at a crucial meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja would not have gone unnoticed.“There are quite a few IOC members from Africa and they will not have been impressed that of the seven sports contesting the two spots, golf was the only one that did not bother to send representatives to Abuja for an African Olympic meeting,” a source close to the IOC told AFP.

“Believe me they have done well to get this far, but annoying or slighting the African bloc could come back to haunt them when it comes to Copenhagen.”

Others close to the IOC wondered whether the Executive Board’s decision to vote for two sports that are largely seen as white-dominated and middle class would go down well with members from less well off countries. However, Dawson and IOC president Jacques Rogge did a sterling job of playing down fears that top golfers simply would not turn up when there are already four majors on offer and to counter top Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy’s statement that golfers were individuals and decided where they played. “Ask Rafael Nadal, ask Roger Federer, ask the US team made up of star NBA players what it means to win an Olympic gold medal,” said Rogge. Dawson himself brooked no argument with the pessimists.

“I think the opportunity to compete in the Olympics and win a gold medal with your country’s name on your back is very different to playing for oneself,” said Dawson.

AFP

 

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