14 Aug 2009

Golf, rugby sevens shortlisted for 2016 Olympics

4:21 pm on 14 August 2009

Golf and rugby sevens took a major step towards inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games after being shortlisted by the International Olympic Committee on Thursday.

The two sports, which last featured in the Olympics more than 80 years ago, were selected from seven candidate sports by the IOC's executive board. A final vote on their inclusion will be held at the IOC session in Copenhagen in October.

Rugby, which featured in four of the first seven Games until 1924, has proposed its shorter and smaller version of sevens.

Golf could now return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

The other five sports - squash, softball, baseball, roller sports and karate - will need to wait another four years before attempting to make it on to the Games programme.

New Zealand would automatically qualify two men and two women golfers if the code is included.

Under the proposed qualifying format, if the Olympics were held today David Smail, Danny Lee, Lynnette Brooky and Sarah Nicholson would compete.

Women's boxing at 2012 Games

The committee also announced that women's boxing will make its first appearance on the Olympic programme at the London 2012 Games.

"It is a great addition to the Games," said IOC President Jacques Rogge. "Boxing was the sole sport where no women were involved (in the summer Olympics)."

The IOC said the current 11 men's events will be replaced by 10 men's and three women's events at the London Games.

The introduction of women's boxing, rejected in the past because of what the IOC said was a limited global appeal, does not need an IOC session approval as the sport is already on the Olympic programme.

NZ champ delighted

New Zealand's current welterweight champion Dawn Chalmers is delighted at the sport's inclusion.

The national title-holder for the past six years says it will be fantastic exposure for women's boxing, which has not had a high profile in the past.

She says the announcement is a long time coming and means exciting times ahead for the sport.

Keith Walker, a member of the New Zealand and International Boxing Associations, says he is not worried about the safety of female boxers at the Olympics.

A perceived lack of depth in the women's sport has prompted fears it could lead to potentially dangerous mis-matches.

However, Mr Walker says these concerns are baseless and the inclusion of women's boxing is essential for the growth of the sport.