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Top Rugby Players Available For Olympics: Maister

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Aug 14 NZPA - New Zealand's top rugby players were expected to be available for the Olympic Games if sevens was added, New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general Barry Maister said today.

Golf and rugby sevens took a major step towards inclusion in the 2016 Games after being shortlisted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) overnight (NZT).

The two sports, which last featured in the Olympics more than 80 years ago, were selected from seven candidate sports by the IOC's executive board.

A final vote on their inclusion will be held at the IOC session in Copenhagen in October.

Maister said the strength of rugby and golf in New Zealand meant the overnight decision to include them was excellent news.

"Our expectation is that the top New Zealand rugby players and golfers will be available for selection," Maister said.

"We're delighted that the IRB has indicated that international competition during Olympic year will be managed to allow this to happen.

"It shows the level of commitment there is to Olympic competition and what this pinnacle event means to athletes and sport.

"Both golf and rugby sevens are strong sports in New Zealand and we're delighted they have been recommended for inclusion in the Olympic programme.

"The Olympic Games will inspire the many young New Zealand athletes who take part in these sports to aim for excellence."

The recommended inclusion of the two new sports was in line with the IOC's ongoing examination of the Olympic programme. Roller sports, softball, karate, squash and baseball had also sought inclusion.

The IOC executive board also assessed and decided on modifications to disciplines within sports currently on the Olympic programme.

There would be an increased number of women's disciplines after changes to boxing and kayak. Changes were also made to modern pentathlon, handball, wrestling, swimming and cycling while a mixed doubles event in tennis was being considered.

All changes had been managed within current sport and athlete-number restrictions. The IOC allows for 28 sports and a maximum of 10,500 athletes at any Olympic Games.

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