Seven Sports Fight For Space At 2016 Olympics

Seven sports presented their cases to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Friday hoping to be included in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games program. The seven sports include rugby, baseball, softball, golf, karate, roller sports and squash.

Bernard Lapasset, President of the International Rugby Board (IRB), led his team in presenting Rugby’s case for re-inclusion in the Olympic Games to the IOC’s Olympic Programme Commission. He said, “our team is very excited to be here today. We are determined to keep driving Rugby forwards, to embrace new territories, to reach out to new players and audiences and inspire young athletes across the world. Indeed, while we count a membership of 116 Unions, we are committed to expanding the sport and its values globally and it is this aim that underpins our current campaign to secure the re-introduction of Rugby into the Olympic Games beginning in 2016”.

Baseball’s team of six was led by International Baseball Federation President Harvey Schiller. Schiller told reporters the one-hour presentation to the program commission went well, adding, “I thought everybody was smiling”.

Schiller said the baseball representatives were quizzed about their ability to deliver major league players to a 16-team Games tournament during August. ESPN reports he said “we’re committed to bringing the best players ever to the Olympic baseball tournament. We talked about our advances in drug testing. We have an agreement with the professional leagues in terms of out-of-competition testing for the events we sanction”.

The BackSoftball team vowed to make softball the most inclusive sport on the planet in its presentation.

ISF President Don Porter underlined the significant changes that the ISF has made since 2005 when softball was voted off the 2012 Olympic program, including increasing the number of federations to 127, improving education programs, promoting and providing coaching and equipment in under-developed areas, and making rule changes to enhance the spectator experience and add to the sport’s conduciveness to television broadcasts.

Porter told the IOC Programme Commission, “the Singapore vote was a wake-up call; it was a chance for our sport to change and improve. And we have seized that chance with both hands. We have already changed and will continue to change for the better. We are constantly listening and learning. Our mission is to make softball the most inclusive team sport on the planet”.

Representatives of the International Golf Federation (IGF) also made their formal presentation Friday morning. Making the presentation were Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF, and PGA Tour executive Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee.

Among the key points highlighted were golf’s worldwide participation and diversity, the sport’s economic and charitable impact, and its commitment to the youth of the world. They noted that golf has grown significantly in these three areas and would continue to grow as an Olympic sport, thus influencing the relevance and attraction of the Olympic Games.

Dawson said “golf truly is an international sport with 60 million people playing the game in nearly 120 countries. And it continues to grow with new initiatives being implemented all over the world to teach the game to both young and old. We believe the time is right for golf to be brought back to the Olympic Games”.

The IOC Programme Commission was shown a series of short films during the presentation featuring top players expressing support for golf’s bid.

Votaw said, “we felt it was critically important to show that many of the game’s biggest stars are saying supportive and positive things about golf’s bid for the Olympics”.

Dawson and Votaw noted the ease with which golf would fit into any of the four finalists to host the 2016 Games due to existing golf facilities in those city – Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports the International Federation for Roller Sports proposes road faces on city streets for men and women, and the World Squash Federation said in its presentation it hopes that television-friendly, glass-enclosed courts can counter the sport’s reputation as one that struggles to translate the speed of play to viewers.

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