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One of the magnificent seven

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Roger Mosey | 11:12 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009

In the week of the Open Golf - your starter for 10: What does golf have in common with these other six sports - softball, baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens and squash?

It's probably too easy a question in an Olympic blog, but the answer is they're all sports bidding to be in the 2016 Olympic Games - and the decision on which two make it is expected in a few weeks' time. Some of them have, of course, been Olympic sports before: softball very recently, and golf rather more distantly in 1900 and 1904. But the fierceness of the competition - I get regular campaign updates from the International Softball Federation - shows just how much Olympic status matters to the sports themselves.

Charles Sands, USA, Golf at the 1900 Paris Olympics

Now, it's unlikely that millions of people worldwide wake up each day with the thought "I wish golf were an Olympic sport" and the success of golf in its present format means that it will thrive whatever the outcome of the IOC's deliberations. But the debate about golf is similar to the one about tennis - which has been on our mind recently after another fantastic Wimbledon.

The unique thing about 2012 will be, effectively, two Wimbledons: the regular tournament and then the Olympic tennis. This won't happen again for a Grand Slam venue unless Paris, Melbourne or New York become host cities. Tennis has, of course, tended to be a bit on the sidelines of previous Games since it was reinstated as a medal event in 1988. With all the other activity in the main stadium and around the Olympic Park in 2012, it will certainly face competition in getting the headlines - but just think of an Olympic tournament following Wimbledons like 2008 or 2009.

Obvious questions: would Federer (2008) or Roddick (2009) be able to get revenge for their final defeats? Would Nadal make the Olympics having missed the Championships? And, biggest issue of all for the home crowd, would Andy Murray make it to the final and win gold for Britain?

Illuminated Centre Court with roof drawn, Wimbledon, 2009

All of this would be on the show courts, all with Wimbledon's ability to create great drama now enhanced by the Centre Court roof - and against the backdrop of London's Olympic Games. You'll have spotted from this that I'm 100% in favour of tennis being part of 2012. Everyone knows the Games will face major logistical challenges and no Olympics is ever problem-free. But Wimbledon - along with venues like Wembley Stadium, Lord's and Greenwich - could well be an ace for the organisers.


  • Comment number 1.

    No brainer for me - Rugby Sevens should get in - it's played on all continents, and no extra facilities are required as the Olympic Stadium can host it during the first week.

    Golf doesn't need it, and whilst a similar argument applies to tennis, I do think as tennis has no "world championships" or sort, it's earned it's place in the games.

    Football is the one that probably should be dropped - it basically means as well as the Olympics, a host has to stage a mini-World Cup which nobody is interested in either. I actually think merging the Olympic tournament and Confederations Cup wouldn't be a bad idea - ditch the under-23 nonsense and have the top 8 play in the Olympics, where the tournament would get the media attention it doesn't really at the moment.

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks for another blog Roger, it is great to regularly have new content to react to again.

    I have always held the simple (and maybe naive) view that the Olympics should be the pinnacle in attainment in any sport's calendar, or for that sport's sportsmen and women.

    That's why I've never been that certain on the inclusion of football, basketball or tennis in the Olympics. I know that the football differs to the World Cup for age restrictions and so on, but for me, the Olympic events that work the best (Gymnastics, swimming, athletics, rowing, and track cycling etc) all have the olympics as the big goal, four years of hard work for a circle of precious metal.

    I think the prospect of two Wimbledons in one year is an appealing thought with a great championships just behind us though.

  • Comment number 3.

    I was expecting the football point! Leaving aside the longer-term arguments, I think for London it depends how the home teams - male and female - get on. You could imagine it being a big moment at Wembley if we were in with a chance of a medal.

    The other virtue of the football is, of course, that it will be played around the UK and not just in London - so it'll be the best opportunity for some people to see live Olympic action.

  • Comment number 4.

    Roger - so which two are you backing: Golf & Softball? For me, it's got to be Squash as one of the two. How such an internationally popular sport can't get in the Olympics is beyond me.

    Would also have to favour Rugby Sevens, especially as the IRB have given firm commitments to wind down one of their tournaments in favour of the Olympics!

  • Comment number 5.

    Re: football. I don't see why there can't be a British Lions kind of arrangement as a one-off - certainly preferable to England playing as Britain (which I think is now the outcome), and it would give youths from Wales, NI and Scotland a rare opportunity to play on such a stage. Or bypass the national federations completely and set a "Team GB" club up for the tournament, directly dealing with clubs to get the players required.

    Personally though if a British Team can't be agreed I'd rather not bother - and the great thing about our lack of involvement in the football is that it's never been allowed to overshadow the other sports in the Olympic programme - frankly virtually the only two weeks in the Olympiad when football isn't dominating the sports pages.

    And if not Rugby Sevens, I'd have to back Squash too. It's one of those sports you just presume is in the Olympics anyway.

  • Comment number 6.

    Jordan D: ah, you know we BBC-types have to be neutral - so I wasn't endorsing any sports myself. That said, I agree with Brekkie: Squash really does feel like an Olympic sport...

    By the way, if the timetable stays as in previous Olympics - the first football matches take place a couple of days before the Opening Ceremony because the tournament won't all fit in otherwise. So the first live sport on BBC airwaves in London 2012 will almost certainly be football.

  • Comment number 7.

    I've got to agree with Brekkie. I'd love to see some Scottish or Welsh footballers take their national association to task for restraint of trade if their respective FAs stop any footballers representing the team. Surely as a BOA team, the BOA should get to choose who plays for them? That's an aside though.

    Roger - correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the Paralympic tennis events going to be not at Wimbledon? Also, how much are you (the BBC) contributing to the LOB in terms of resources - I remember at Beijing, you mentioned how the BBC 'ran' the rowing venue's coverage.

  • Comment number 8.

    Jordan D - yes, the wheelchair tennis will be at Eton Manor which is at the north end of the Olympic park.

    On the BBC contribution to the host broadcasting operation: it's one of the things we're working on at the moment but it's not yet decided. Again, this is something we'll blog about more fully in the coming months.

  • Comment number 9.

    In my opinion squash and karate should be the two sports that get accepted. I certainly dont think golf should be included there is enough debate to be had as to whether golf is even a sport, let alone something which requires an Olympian effort. Alpamark, I take your point about the Olympics being the pinnacle and as such tennis should most definitely be excluded. There would not be two Wimbledons in one year, there would be one Wimbledon (with all the pomp and pretentiousness that accompany British sporting events) and an Olympic tennis competition, mired in the middle pages behind the exploits of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt et al. In many ways it would be a similar situation to when Britain played their Davies Cup tie at Wimbledon again, certainly not two Wimbledons!

    However, the one slight problem with this argument is cycling. Especially after this years Tour, with Cavendish and Wiggins both openly stating that the Tour is the pinnacle in their sport and NOT the Olympics, it does lead one to question if Olympic cycling is actually as prestigious as the British media make out (primarily because we were successful at it in Beijing).

    Other than that, an interesting blog and I for one cannot wait for London to come around. I just hope that London can provide the memories that Beijing so amply did!

  • Comment number 10.

    Cheers for that Roger (#8) - will be interesting when you do blog on the subject to see what the breakdown is in terms of 'who's contributing what'.

    Also, will there be live coverage from Copenhagen in Octobera, for the decision making of the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games ?

  • Comment number 11.

    langdale_09: interesting comments, and I understand what you mean about tennis. I'm just thinking about it from an audience point-of-view here: Andy Murray on Centre Court against Federer or Nadal with the possibility of medal is a huge attraction, and Wimbledon does make it different from the usual Olympic tennis tournament.

    Jordan D - not sure about the detailed coverage plans yet but the BBC will definitely be reporting the Copenhagen vote across all platforms when the 2016 decision's made.


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