Golf tries to drop elitist tag, rugby plays global card for Olympic spot
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Golf officials hoping to clinch a return to the Olympics sought to shake off the sport's elitist image on Wednesday, while rugby said its place in the Games would provide a boost to smaller nations.
Golf and rugby have been shortlisted for a return to the Olympics from 2016, with the International Olympic Committee due to decide in two separate votes on Friday.
"Golf has become a very affordable sport," said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient (R&A).
"72 percent (of U.S. courses) are public facilities, 56 percent of players (in the U.S.) have a household income of $25,000 to $100,000. That is hardly elitist," he told reporters.
Golf is bidding to return to the Games after last appearing in the 1904 Olympics.
American golfer Michelle Wie, in the Danish capital to support the bid, said taking part in the Olympics would be "the highest achievement for every golfer".
"Winning an Olympic medal will be the highest point you could reach," said the teenager. "Competing for your country, well the stakes would be that much higher."
The IOC is eager to refresh its Games programme to attract younger audiences. The sports will be back at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics should they win a simple majority of votes on Friday.
Rugby, which last featured as a full Olympic sport in 1924, said it would give smaller countries a chance to win medals, with Rugby Sevens popular in Pacific nations.
"Rugby Sevens offers more universality," International Rugby Board chief Bernard Lapasset told reporters. "You have countries like Fiji, Tonga and Samoa that normally cannot compete for medals in the Olympics."
Rugby also has top players in town to back their effort, including New Zealander Jonah Lomu and former Argentine captain Agustin Pichot.
(Editing by Kevin Fylan; To comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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