Rugby and Golf confirmed for the 2016 Olympics in Rio

Golf & rugby voted into Olympics

Golf legend Tiger Woods intends to compete in 2016
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.

Golf was passed by 63 votes to 27 while rugby sevens had 81 votes in favour and eight against.

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

Bernard Lapasset, president of the International Rugby Board, said the Olympics would be “the pinnacle of our sport”.

“This is a historic moment for our sport and for the global rugby community, who were united in support of our campaign,” he added.

“We are excited and honoured to be joining the Olympic Games and I would like to thank the IOC members for believing in our Olympic vision and our values and recognising that rugby sevens is a perfect fit for the Olympic Games.”

We want to play our part in strengthening and growing the Olympic movement – rugby is reaching out

Ex-Argentina captain Agustin Pichot
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.

It was delayed while some IOC members expressed concern about the process by which the sports had been selected for inclusion by the IOC’s executive board.

But when the vote was finally taken both passed with flying colours, although the majority in favour of golf was somewhat smaller than that in favour of its fellow returnee to the Olympic family.

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.

American world number two Mickelson said if golf was included in the Games it would help the sport become “a melting pot of all different nationalities”.

Els said it would be an “absolute dream come true” to compete in the Olympics, while Woods said it would be great to see golf on the “grandest of stages”.

606: DEBATE
Rugby sevens is a good addition to the Olympics – just a shame it won’t be at London

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“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,” he added.

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.”

Rugby union was last part of the Olympics in 1924 in the full 15-man version of the code, and will return to the Games in the truncated seven-man version.

Rugby sevens was represented on the day by stars including All Black legend Jonah Lomu, former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot, Kenya captain Humphrey Kayange and Australia women’s captain Cheryl Soon.

A number of delegates preferred to praise the sport rather than question its inclusion, but among the queries posed was whether the game’s top stars would play in Rio.

Lomu, a former Commonwealth games gold medallist, said: “To see my sport in the best arena would be fantastic for rugby, men’s and women’s. We are very passionate about it – you just have to say where we have to play and the best players will come.

“I can speak for all of them – they will turn up.”

Soon said it would be “a privilege” to play in the Olympics, while Pichot added: “We want to play our part in strengthening and growing the Olympic movement – rugby is reaching out.”