With the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro less than nine months away, excitement has been building, especially with the introduction of rugby sevens and the reintroduction of golf to the event schedule.
Golf was first included in the Summer Olympics in 1900 as men’s individual and women’s individual events, and returned in 1904 as men’s individual and men’s team. However, in 1914 golf was put on a list of optional sports, and has since not been included in any Summer Olympics programme. The main reason for this was that many observers felt the sport already had enough international recognition and support, with tournaments including the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup attracting worldwide interest. Therefore many felt that there was no real point in hosting golf at the Olympics, as there was already great exposure to the sport and many other opportunities for the athletes to demonstrate their talent. There is also the issue that many professional golfers aspire to win a major much more than an Olympic medal. Tiger Woods was even quoted saying, 'If you asked any player if they would rather have an Olympic gold or a green jacket or Claret Jug, most of them would say the majors'. Many hope that reintroducing Golf to the Olympics will increase the popularity of the sport in countries across the world.
The debut of rugby sevens as an Olympic event in 2016 will be an exciting addition to the Games. Rugby sevens has been added to the official programme instead of the usual 15-a-side rugby union, as sevens is typically a faster paced game, with more running and shorter games. Rugby has not been part of the Olympic Games since 1924, and its reintroduction to the Games will no doubt attract support and attention from all around the world. So far eight countries have qualified for the Olympics, in the men’s tournament, and nine countries that have qualified for the women’s tournament, with Great Britain qualifying in both. It will surely prove to be an exciting and memorable addition to the Summer Olympics in 2016.
Isabel Short VII