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Page last updated at 20:31 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

August D-Day for Olympic hopefuls

By Matt Slater

The race for a place in the 2016 Games has just got even hotter

The seven sports hoping to be included in the 2016 Olympic Games will be cut to two at a meeting in Berlin ahead of a final decision later in 2009.

The original plan was for the sports to make presentations in June before going to Copenhagen for the vote in October.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has now opted to cut five sports at August's executive board meeting.

"They've shifted the goalposts a bit," said Natalie Grainger, the president of the women's pro squash tour.

"This year all the sports have been ramping up their campaigns as much as they can but we had a feeling something like this might come up, so it hasn't come completely out of the blue.

"What we've had now is absolute confirmation from the IOC that this is definitely going to happen.

"But squash is a fast-action sport so I guess we'll just have to plan our attack and deal with it.

"Everything will have to be sped up, and we'll have to be ready in June, but we've been preparing for that for so long hopefully we'll put our best foot forward."

I think we'll win so I'm not concerned at all

N. Ramachandran
World Squash Federation

The new plan was announced on the first day of the IOC's executive board meeting in Denver.

Squash and karate narrowly failed to gain a place in the programme for London 2012 at the IOC's 117th annual session in Singapore.

With baseball and softball removed from the schedule that left only 26 core sports, two less than the three previous Games. The IOC is eager to return that number to 28 but without unduly increasing the cost or size of the Games.

To increase the chances of this happening the rules were tweaked in 2006 - whereas karate and squash needed the support of two thirds of the IOC's membership in 2005, they would only require simple majorities at the 121st IOC session in Denmark.

Both these sports and baseball and softball have made the IOC's shortlist for Olympic status in 2016, as well as golf, roller sports and rugby sevens.

South Korea's Lee Yong-kyu celebrates during the Olympic final against Cuba
S Korea beat Cuba in what may have been the last Olympic baseball event

Delegations from the governing bodies of each of these sports made initial presentations to the IOC last November. They were then asked to complete a rigorous 80-question audit of their sport's suitability for the Olympics by February.

The next key date was supposed to be the IOC's executive board meeting in Lausanne on 15 June, with the final decision being made by the 108 voting members of the IOC.

They will still get their say - and could vote to include no new sports in 2016 - but the IOC's executive board will narrow their options to just two at its third meeting of the year on 13 August in Berlin.

While this will clearly streamline the agenda for the Copenhagen session, which also votes on which city will host the 2016 Games, it may annoy many of the candidate sports, particularly as they have all poured money into high-profile campaigns to gain Olympic status.

Many will also be irritated that their case will not be heard by the wider IOC electorate.

The IOC's executive board is comprised of the Olympic movement's president Jacques Rogge, four vice-presidents and 10 IOC members. Apart from the president, they are elected for four-year terms.


Among the current members are former Olympic fencing champion Thomas Bach of Germany and Namibia's former World 200m champion Frankie Fredericks.

But World Squash Federation president N. Ramachandran dismissed concerns that the executive board was wielding too much influence on this subject, saying the "ultimate decision" still rested with the IOC's members.

"The executive board will make a recommendation but the members can still say no. So there are two hurdles to clear," he told BBC Sport from Denver.

"But I think we'll win so I'm not concerned at all."

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see also
Seven sports seek 2016 inclusion
14 Nov 08 |  Olympics
Rogge voices Olympic rugby doubts
30 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Cricket seeks Olympics inclusion
29 Aug 07 |  Cricket
Squash 'deserves Olympic place'
23 Mar 07 |  Squash
IOC alters rules for new sports
28 Nov 06 |  Other sport...
Olympic sports fail in appeal bid
09 Feb 06 |  Olympics 2012
Sports respond to IOC's decision
08 Jul 05 |  Olympics 2012
Fewer sports for London Olympics
08 Jul 05 |  Olympics 2012
Olympic sports oppose drop vote
28 Apr 05 |  Olympics 2012

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