Seven sports vie for 2016 Olympics in Beijing
The seven sports vying for a spot at the 2016 Olympics are using the Beijing Games to promote their cause.
The International Olympic Committee will decide in October 2009 whether golf, rugby, baseball, softball, roller sports, squash or karate will be included in 2016. Two spots will be up for grabs to bring the total to 28 sports.
Baseball and softball are being played in Beijing but were dropped from the program for the 2012 London Olympics, which will have 26 sports. They are seeking reinstatement for 2016, while the five other candidates failed in 2005 to get voted into the London Games.
The IOC wants sports with strong international appeal that will draw crowds.
“We think that the Olympics will be another platform on which golf’s story can be told,” International Golf Federation spokesman Ty Votaw said Tuesday, adding that golf offers viewership in 215 countries and 35 different languages.
Although Tiger Woods has expressed mixed feelings about the idea, Votaw said Olympic golf had the backing of LPGA star Lorena Ochoa and major champions Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir.
“I think Sergio Garcia will probably notice the tear in (Rafael) Nadal’s eye at the gold medal ceremony and what it meant to him after winning Wimbledon to come here and win a gold medal,” Votaw said, referring to the Spanish tennis star’s victory in Beijing. “That kind of achievement is something that I think is something that would be special to our players.”
Three years ago, baseball and softball became the first sports dropped from the games since polo in 1936.
International Softball Federation president Don Porter knows the sport needs to stretch its international reach.
“We want to see our sport become more universal. We’re making good progress. We can make more,” Porter said at a conference organized by the Around the Rings Web site.
International Baseball Federation president Harvey Schiller said baseball wouldn’t make major scheduling changes for the games even if Chicago is selected as the 2016 host city, offering a unique opportunity to showcase major league talent.
“We are not an industry that is going to shut down,” he said. “We will have by 2016 … a representation of the best players in the world from baseball.”
Chicago is competing against Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Madrid, Spain, for the 2016 games. The host city will be selected at the same IOC meeting in Copenghagen, Denmark, where the 2016 sports program will be decided.
Schiller also dismissed suggestions that baseball could be hurt by questions over its doping record.
“We’re fully WADA compliant and we’re improving our testing programs,” Schiller said referring to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s rules. “Major League Baseball gets a bad rap.”
Rugby, which would be played as a sevens tournament, is riding high after last year’s World Cup, while squash says it is one of the most mobile sports, able to erect glass courts quickly for audiences of 10,000.
George Yerolimpos, general secretary of the International Karate Federation, told The Associated Press that karate would present a 10-year study to the IOC that examined the scientific and sporting side of the sport. The study is part of a radical plan to move the sport, which is represented by 100 million members in 180 countries, forward.
“We are the most popular martial arts in the world—by far,” Yerolimpos said. “In every corner of the world we have a club. We exist everywhere.”