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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Seven sports seek 2016 inclusion

Golf and rugby sevens are among seven sports presenting their cases on Friday for inclusion in the Olympic Games.

The sports for London 2012 have already been decided and these seven have to wait until next October to find out if they have a place in the 2016 Games.

Baseball and softball are bidding for a return as both were dropped from the 2012 programme, baseball because many of the top players did not compete.

Squash, roller sports and karate are also making presentations.

The IOC has set a limit of 28 sports in 2016, meaning the sports will fight over the last two available slots.

The program commission is chaired by Italian Franco Carraro, one of eight IOC members on the panel questioning the delegations before presenting a report to the executive board.

Each sport has a one-hour slot, with baseball making the first pitch in the closed-door presentations in Lausanne, Switzerland.

To win reinstatement for 2016, baseball must show the IOC it can deliver major league players to an Olympic tournament.

The baseball delegation was asked about its ability to deliver major league players to a 16-team Olympic tournament in August 2016 - right in the middle of the US major league season.

"We're committed to bringing the best players ever to the Olympic baseball tournament," said International Baseball Federation president Harvey Schiller.

"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."

Softball - a women's sport in the Olympics - is battling to return to the Games after missing out by just a single vote in 2005.

Golf, which was last played at the Olympics in 1904, proposes to return with men's and women's tournaments.

The golf delegation, including USPGA executive Ty Votaw and Peter Dawson of the Royal and Ancient - golf's governing body outside the US - brought the trophy presented in St Louis 104 years ago.

Votaw said golf's strong points were "speaking with one voice, bringing top players, and worldwide participation," with the sport televised in 216 countries each week.

"We would be able to promote golf in the Olympics and the Olympic movement across that platform every single week," Votaw said.

The World Karate Federation, comprising 180 national governing bodies, proposes to award 10 gold medals in five classes for each of the men's and women's competitions, with the International Federation for Roller Sports hoping to stage races on city streets for men and women, but not rink hockey or skateboarding.

Rugby fell from the Olympic program in 1924 and wants to come back with the seven-a-side, shorter version of the game for men and women, rather than the more established 15-a-side competition.

Finally, the World Squash Federation 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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