Seven sports pitch to IOC


LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Seven sports hoping to be included in the 2016 Olympics made their pitch to the International Olympic Committee on Monday.

Golf, karate, squash, baseball, softball, rollersports and rugby are vying for a maximum of two spots in the program.

The IOC, eager to revamp the schedule to attract younger audiences, will shortlist two of the seven sports in August before a final vote on their inclusion two months later.

Madrid, Tokyo, Chicago and Rio de Janeiro are bidding to host the 2016 Games, with the host also picked in October.

"To be the first gold medal winner in 112 years? I will be 53 then," said 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie as golf presented its case to the IOC's executive board.

"We have missed out on that for more than a century," Montgomerie added. Golf was last an Olympic sport in 1904.

The presentation team showed a video with top players past and present including Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods pledging their support to golf's bid to join the Olympics.

"I think we shot under par," said Swede Annika Sorenstam, widely regarded as the best female player of all-time.

Baseball officials assured the IOC a "selection of the best players" would be made available for the Olympics despite a clash with the Major League Baseball season.

No MLB games would be scheduled on the days of the medal matches.

"We do not want to compete against any Olympic broadcast," said international federation chief Harvey Schiller.

Baseball and softball became the first sports to be taken off the program in 2005 since polo was excluded in 1936 and will not feature in the 2012 London Games.

"We want to get back to having an Olympic dream," said international softball chief Don Porter. "We hope we did enough to get a favorable decision."

Karate officials said their sport, with around 100 million registered athletes worldwide, would be a non-contact version that would award points for specific moves.

Rugby is offering its Sevens competition, which is faster and shorter than the traditional 15-man game.

"The Olympics will lift the whole concept for the players," said former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot. "Players will want to compete for Olympic gold. They will want to be chosen."

Squash stressed its universality and youth appeal, said world federation president N. Ramachandran.

Rollersports officials said they had offered an exciting concept with several competitions of in-line skating.

"If they want to get young people with a new, dynamic sport they can follow our proposal," federation general secretary Roberto Marotta said. "We don't need any facilities. We can do it in a car park or a road."