Rugby Sevens and golf were last night celebrating becoming Olympic sports, but both will go to the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 knowing that failure to make a lasting impression could see them cast out into the wilderness. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to include the two sports for 2016 and 2020 but will review their futures in 2017, immediately after Rio.
International Rugby Board secretary general Mike Miller said they were confident of putting on a spectacle in Rio that would guarantee future inclusion. "We are in the programme for two Games, 2016 and 2020, and a Sevens tournament in Rio will be a huge success, so we are confident about any review that might take place in 2017," he said. "Rugby and Rio are made for each other, Sevens is a huge festival, and great sports and a great time is what the Olympic Games is all about."
Peter Dawson, acting president of the International Golf Federation, echoed that. We are absolutely delighted to be back in the Olympic programme," he said. "All of golf is committed to providing an excellent event in 2016 and 2020 and when things are reviewed in 2017 I'm sure the event in Rio will have a big bearing on our future." The sports received majority support in separate votes by the IOC after leading athletes and officials from both camps gave presentations - including a video message from Tiger Woods.
Yesterday's vote was also a victory for Jacques Rogge, the IOC president who was re-elected to a final four-year term just hours earlier. "Time will show your decision on the new sports was very wise," he said. Golf was approved 63-27 with two abstentions, and will feature a 72-hole strokeplay tournament for men and women, with 60 players in each field. Rugby was voted in 81-8 with one abstention.
There was some opposition with Dick Pound, from Canada, arguing that IOC members had not been given the opportunity to vote on the five sports which had been excluded earlier this year by the IOC's executive board. The Olympics will feature a Sevens event, which will have 12 mens and womens teams, and last four days. There had been two openings on the programme since baseball and softball were dropped in 2005 for the 2012 London Games.
Rugby and golf both made their Olympic debuts at the second modern Games in Paris in 1900. Golf was only played again at the 1904 St Louis Games, while rugby featured three more times, making its last appearance in the 1924 Paris Olympics. * Agencies