Golf among seven sports seeking inclusion in 2016 Games

LONDON -- Softball, baseball and golf are among seven sports under consideration for inclusion at the 2016 Olympics.

Softball and baseball, which were cut from the Olympic program for the 2012 London Games, will get a chance for reinstatement at the IOC assembly in October 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports will be considered for the two openings on the 2016 schedule. All five had failed to win admission into the London Olympics in 2005.

The International Olympic Committee has sent letters to the world governing bodies of the seven sports notifying them that they are on the list for consideration, IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said Friday.

The same 26 sports on the London program will be put forward for 2016. The IOC has set a ceiling of 28 sports, meaning there will be room for only one or two new additions.

Softball and baseball have been lobbying hard for a return to the Olympics since being voted off the program by the IOC in Singapore in 2005. Both sports will be played at this summer's Beijing Olympics but will be absent in London.

In Singapore, softball missed out by one vote and baseball by three. After they were dropped, the IOC then rejected golf and the four others hoping to get into the games, leaving London with only 26 sports rather than the usual 28.

Under a new formula approved last year, it will take a simple majority for a sport to be voted onto the program. Previously, a two-thirds majority was needed.

The sports program is fixed seven years before each Olympics. The IOC will also select the 2016 host city during the Copenhagen session, with Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro among the leading contenders.

Moreau said the IOC will send out questionnaires to the seven sports federations in December, with replies to be returned by March 2009. The IOC program commission will prepare a report assessing the seven sports in April 2009.

Leaders of the seven sports will make presentations to the IOC executive board in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June 2009. The executive board will then submit proposals to the full IOC in Copenhagen on which sports to include.

The procedure has been streamlined following widespread criticism of the arduous procedures at the IOC session in Singapore, where members voted individually on each of the 28 sports.

Softball joined the games in Atlanta in 1996. Baseball debuted as a medal sport in Barcelona in 1992.

Golf, which was last played in the Olympics in 1904, got a boost earlier this month when PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem endorsed the sport's bid to get back into the games.

Rugby, last played at the 1924 Olympics, has proposed a Sevens tournament rather than the traditional 15-a-side competition.