IT’S OFFICIAL: Golf has a tee time at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The International Olympic Committee has voted 63 to 27 to include golf while rugby sevens was a shoo in with 81 votes to eight against.
The International Golf Federation has promised that the world’s best will take part in Olympic golf, which will see 60 players in both the men and women’s competitions facing off over 72 holes.
“We are elated that the IOC membership has accepted golf as an Olympic sport, and look forward to seeing the world’s best golfers compete for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” said Ty Votaw, executive director of the IGF’s Olympic Golf Committee, which has coordinated golf’s Olympic bid.
“We have received unprecedented support from international golf organisations throughout this process, as well as from the world’s top-ranked men and women players, which was critical to our success.
“We also stressed the universal nature of golf, with 60 million people playing the sport in more than 120 countries.”
Golf was played at the Paris Games in 1900 and four years later in St Louis.
In a searching examination by IOC members, golf was forced to answer criticisms about gender equality at some clubs and the extent to which players would consider it the pinnacle of sporting achievement.
Padraig Harrington appeared before the IOC in Copenhagen alongside Michelle Wie and others, attempted to allay fears that top players would not consider an Olympic medal as an achievement on a par with winning a major title.
“Between now and 2016, there are 28 major championships but only one chance to win an Olympic gold medal,” the Irishman said. “As a child growing up in Ireland the greatest plaudits were always given to the Olympians.”
Tiger Woods and Ernie Els sent video messages from the Presidents Cup to support the campaign. Woods, who has said he will compete in 2016 if he is still playing at the top level, said: “It would be an honor for anyone who plays this game to become an Olympian.”