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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Women's boxing ruled out for 2008
Muhammad Ali and his daughter Laila
Laila Ali has increased the popularity of women's boxing
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided against including women's boxing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

But IOC director of sport Kelly Fairweather insists the sport could still make its debut in London in 2012.

"We'll continue to review requests, but did not feel it merited inclusion in 2008," said Fairweather.

The sport has increased in popularity in recent years thanks to boxers like Muhammad Ali's daughter, Laila.

Meanwhile, the IOC executive board has continued its push to have more women competing in the Olympics.

In Athens, 59% of competitors were men, while only 41% were female, and this is something the IOC wishes to balance out.

Therefore, demands to increase the number of teams in women's football, hockey and handball have all been approved by the board.

All three sports have been increased from 10 to 12 teams and an extra 80 women will compete in Beijing.

The extra hockey places will boost Great Britain's chances of competing - they sat out the Athens Games after missing the cut-off by two places in the qualifying tournament.

New for Beijing in 2008, will be a women's 3,000m steeplechase and a 10km open water swimming event for both men and women.

While the doubles events in table tennis are also set to be replaced by men's and women's team events.

The inclusion of the 10km open water race is good news for British swimming as Bath's Alan Bircher claimed the silver medal at the world championships.

David Sparkes, chief executive of British Swimming, said: "We have a talent in Alan Bircher, who has medalled at a series of international events since taking up the sport three years ago.

"Alan has tremendous potential and we will be working with him to ensure he can compete for medals in Beijing.

The open water event is yet to have a venue for the London 2012 Games but is likely to be held close to central London and could take place in the Royal Docks.

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