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Olympic golf decision to be delayed

A decision on whether to add golf and rugby to the Olympic program might be put off until next summer.

The International Olympic Committee had previously said that decisions on both adding and cutting sports would be taken at its meetings in Mexico City next month.

IOC officials said Tuesday they still plan to vote then on proposals for dropping baseball, softball and modern pentathlon, but may wait until July to decide whether to bring in golf, rugby or any other sport.

The IOC's program commission made the proposals in August. Any changes will go into effect starting with the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

The IOC's executive board is to consider the commission's report in Mexico City on Nov. 25-26 and then make recommendations to the full assembly, meeting Nov. 28-29.

Cutting sports requires a simple majority vote of the more than 120 members. A two-thirds majority is need for adding sports.

IOC president Jacques Rogge told a sports television conference in Monaco on Tuesday that final action on new sports might only take place at the next session in Prague, Czech Republic, in July.

"Decisions will be made in Mexico on the potential exclusion of sports but, depending on the outcome, decisions on possible inclusion might be postponed until July," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.

"The IOC might want to discuss further the existing program before making any final decisions on inclusion," she said. "This is a completely new process for us and we might need more time. There is no hurry."

Rogge has stressed the program will be kept at a maximum of 28 sports, the current level. No sports will be added unless some are dropped, he says.

Postponing a decision until July would allow the IOC time to see which, if any sports, are removed from the program before settling on which, if any, to bring in.

Rogge has also left open the possibility of adding the martial art of wushu.

Chinese organizers are pushing hard for the sport to be included in Beijing.

The program commission said golf should be admitted "on the condition that participation of the best athletes in the Olympic competition is guaranteed."

That could be difficult considering that the Olympics likely would fall between the British Open and the PGA Championship. And the sport's biggest star, Tiger Woods, is lukewarm about the idea of playing for a gold medal.

Baseball, softball and modern pentathlon have been waging a vigorous lobbying campaign to save their Olympic status.

The IOC panel also recommended eliminating several Olympic disciplines, including either freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling, canoe-kayak slalom; the three-day equestrian event; race walking in track and field; keelboat class in sailing; and lightweight rowing events.

The executive board can cut disciplines without going to the full assembly.

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