At the R&A Open Championship Press Conference Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A and also President of the International Golf Federation (IGF), was able to update the media about the state of the arrangements for golf to return to The Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Within the last three weeks or so, the Rio Organising Committee and the city of Rio have confirmed that the Riserva Uno site, which is quite close to both the Olympic village and also to the sea in the Barra area of Rio, will be the site of the Olympic golf event.
Commercial negotiations are currently underway by the City of Rio to acquire that site for golf. The golf course will be designed by an architect yet to be determined and laid out on that site for the Olympic event.
“In order to be in time, we need to get the architect appointed, his designs approved, and start breaking ground in 2012 in order to make the timetable for a 2015 test event of some sort prior to the 2016 games,” said Peter Dawson, who went on, “It’s a greenfield site within the city limits. And it’s sand‑capped, by and large, but does have mangrove at the south end of it.
“Amazingly a golf course was laid out on this site by, believe it or not, Martin Hawtree five or six years ago but this was never pursued. The golf course he laid out was not laid out with championship golf particularly in mind but, clearly, Martin thought it was a suitable site for a course, and I’m much heartened by that.
“I’m pretty sure there will be a tender process which will go out to architects who have registered an interest. That process will be administered by the Rio Organising Committee, whose responsibility it is to provide venues, but The International Golf Federation will have the role of checking that the venue meets golf’s requirements technically.
“The format of the event remains as per the Olympic bid for golf, which was 60 men in one competition, 60 women in another, 72‑hole stroke‑play event. And whilst we do have perhaps an opportunity to revisit that, there really isn’t an opportunity to do so until after the London games.”
When the world’s top players were asked about the format for Olympic Golf they thought the format used for major championships should be the same format used in the Olympic Games but there is still a possibility of a team competition being added to the event.
On the possibility of golf being included in the 2016 Paralympics Peter Dawson said, “The Paralympic Golf did put a bid in for inclusion in the Paralympic Games in 2016, which was not successful. The IPC rejected the bid, and clearly there is much more work to do if golf is to get into the Paralympic Games, most of which is technical/biomechanical/medical in nature and is huge is quantity. So we’ve been knocked back on that, and we’re licking our wounds and rethinking on it.”