IOC backs golf, rugby, women's boxing
International Olympic Committee leaders met Thursday and decided to recommend golf, rugby and women's boxing for inclusion in the Summer Olympics.
Women's boxing was approved for the 2012 Games in London. Golf and rugby sevens were recommended for inclusion in the 2016 Summer Games.
"[I'm] so excited," Windsor, Ont., boxer Mary Spencer, a six-time Canadian champion and two-time world champion, told CBC Newsworld. "It was great getting the phone call this morning and hearing it was a 'yes,' and we would be going to the Olympics. I've played it in my mind a 100 times in the past expecting them to say 'yes,' but when it actually happened, it was overwhelming."
The 15-member board voted by secret ballot to cut the field to two sports, which will be submitted for ratification by the full 106-member IOC assembly in Copenhagen in October.
"In the end, the decision came down to which two would add the most value," said IOC president Jacques Rogge. "Golf and rugby will be a great addition to the Games … They have global appeal, a geographically diverse lineup of top iconic athletes and an ethic that stresses fair play."
For the 2012 Games, mixed doubles in tennis and more 50-metre events in swimming were also considered. The IOC executive board took a look at baseball, karate, roller sports, softball and squash for 2016.
Leaders of the seven sports bidding for 2016 inclusion made presentations to the IOC board in June in Lausanne, Switzerland, and have continued to lobby extensively.
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Boxing is the only Summer Olympic sport without female competitors.
"Women's Olympic boxing is a vote for the future," said Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, president of AIBA, the International Boxing Association. "AIBA accepted women's boxing into its program as long ago as 1994 and I am thrilled and delighted that, at long last, women can claim their rightful place alongside men on the Olympic boxing program."
The IOC has a limit of 286 boxers in the 2012 Olympics, which means that one of the men's weight classes will be cut in order to make room.
Canada's Mandy Bujold has already won two Pan Am Games gold medals and is currently ranked fourth in the world in her weight class. The Kitchener, Ont., fighter expects to contend for the podium in London.
"I've got over 60 fights now [and] keep getting better and better every time," she said. "Once the Olympics comes, [I'll] definitely be ready."
Women will compete in three weight classes, with 12 competitors each in flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.
"This is a very important guideline by the IOC. [If] you want to increase the quota, it's not easy," said Wu.
Golf was played at the 1900 Paris Olympics and 1904 St. Louis Games. The sport's backers say bringing the game back into the Olympics would help it develop worldwide, noting many governments only fund Olympic sports.
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Tiger Woods and other top players have indicated they would play in the Olympics.
"Golf is a truly global sport and it should have been in the Olympics a while ago," Woods said Tuesday. "If it does get in, it would be great for golf and some of the other small countries that are now emerging in golf."
Rugby sevens is a faster version of the more established 15-a-side game. Rugby was last played at the 1924 Olympics, albeit in the full format.
Softball and baseball were seeking a return after being voted off the program for the 2012 London Games. Attempted reinstatements were rejected by the IOC in 2006.
Softball, a women's event that debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, has focused on spreading the sport among youth and women in the Muslim world and Africa, and staying free of doping scandals. It has offered to organize a men's Olympic tournament as well if readmitted by the IOC.
Baseball — which has failed to bring top players to the Olympics due to a scheduling clash with the U.S. major leagues — is offering a shortened five-day, eight-team format intended to ensure the participation of big-name stars.
The host city for the 2016 Olympics will be determined on Oct. 2.