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Golf and rugby added for 2016 Olympics

By John Powers
Globe Staff / October 10, 2009

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Golf and seven-a-side rugby will be back on the Olympic program for 2016 after easily earning a thumbs-up from the International Olympic Committee yesterday in Copenhagen. “Time will show that your decision was very wise,’’ said Jacques Rogge, elected to a final term as president by an 88-1 count.

After the IOC’s executive board recommended the sports for inclusion ahead of baseball, softball, squash, karate, and roller sports, there was little doubt the full membership would approve them, bringing the summer program back to 28 sports for the Rio de Janeiro Games. Golf’s margin was 63-27, rugby’s 81-8. But not everybody was happy with the procedure. “It is not fair to the other five sports,’’ said Canadian member Dick Pound, who thought the members should have had a chance to choose among all seven.

It was the first time that the five-ringed menu has been increased since triathlon and taekwondo were added for 2000 in Sydney. Baseball and softball were dropped after last year’s Games in Beijing.

Golf and rugby, both male-only sports when they were last on the program in 1904 and 1924 respectively, will be coed this time. “I can dream about doing something that neither Tiger [Woods] nor Ernie [Els] have ever done,’’ Michelle Wie told the members. “And that is to make the final putt to win an Olympic gold medal.’’

The golf event will be 72 holes of stroke play over four days, with 60 men and 60 women competing. The rugby tournament also will be conducted over four days, with 12 teams for both men and women.