The International Golf Federation (IGF) have announced that two of the game’s all-time greatest players, Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam, will serve as Global Ambassadors in support of the IGF’s bid to reinstate golf as an Olympic sport.
As Global Ambassadors, the two World Golf Hall of Fame members will represent the Olympic golf effort at select international events and lend ongoing support to the IGF’s Olympic Golf Committee, which is spearheading the bid. This will include the Committee’s future communication and meetings with the International Olympic Committee, which will vote on whether to add as many as two new sports to the 2016 Olympic Games in October 2009 at the 121st IOC session in Copenhagen, Denmark. Golf last was an Olympic sport in 1904 in St. Louis in the United States.
“It is an honour and privilege to take an active role in assisting golf’s bid to become an Olympic sport,” said Sorenstam, a native of Sweden whose stellar career includes 89 world-wide victories as a professional, 72 on the LPGA Tour.
“Now, as I step aside from competitive golf, a major objective of mine is to help grow the game around the world and I can think of no better way to grow it than through the Olympics.”
Nicklaus, considered by many the greatest player in the sport’s history with a record 18 professional Major Championships and 118 worldwide tournament victories, notes the perfect alignment between Olympic ideals and the values inherent in golf.
“As a player and now a course designer, I have seen the game of golf enjoy tremendous growth worldwide, and we are seeing the game introduced and grow in new countries and markets every day,” Nicklaus said.
“Golf truly embodies the Olympic spirit with a foundation built upon honor, integrity, dignity and sportsmanship. I believe with its inclusion, golf can strengthen the Olympic movement throughout the world. At the same time, it can have a tremendous impact on the growth of golf where it is a developing sport. I’m pleased to lend my support to the cause.”
Many of the game’s biggest stars already have voiced support for golf’s Olympic bid. A number expressed their viewpoint in a series of short films shown to the IOC Programme Commission during last month’s formal bid presentation made by Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF, and the US PGA TOUR’s Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee.
Among the players featured in the films were the world’s top-ranked male and female players, Tiger Woods of the United States and Lorena Ochoa of Mexico (films available for viewing at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwtHP4DH-vE).
“We’ve said all along that it is critical to have the support of the game’s leading players, and now to have two of golf’s icons serve as Global Ambassadors for the Olympic cause speaks volumes to the degree of support we have,” Votaw said.
Golf is one of seven sports vying for inclusion in the 2016 Games. The others are baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, softball and squash.
The next step in the process is for each sport to submit responses to a detailed questionnaire in March that will constitute the formal and technical bid. The IGF will be soliciting input from the world’s top players to help finalise the proposed format for Olympic golf competition. Dawson and Votaw told the IOC that the IGF’s initial thinking is for 60-player fields for both men and women playing in a yet-to-be determined individual competitive format.
Prior to the final decision, each sport under consideration will respond by May to any questions the IOC Programme Committee might have regarding the detailed questionnaire. A second presentation to the IOC Executive Board will take place in June, with the final vote taking place in October in Copenhagen. The host city for the 2016 Games also will be determined at that time. Dawson and Votaw have noted the ease with which golf would fit into any of the four finalists to host the 2016 Games due to existing golf facilities in those cities – Chicago, USA; Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan.
International Golf Federation www.internationalgolffederation.org