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Golf being considered for 2012 Olympics

Golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports are in the running for possible inclusion at the 2012 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee said Wednesday it notified those five sports' governing bodies that they will be ``studied further'' as part of a review of the Summer Games' competition schedule.

The IOC is assessing the 28 sports on the program of last month's Athens Olympics to determine whether changes should be made.

The list of sports will remain the same for the 2008 Beijing Games, with any modifications taking effect in 2012. The IOC will decide on the sports program -- and select the 2012 host city -- at its session in Singapore in July.

IOC president Jacques Rogge repeatedly has said that sports only will be added if others are dropped. The maximum will stay at 28 sports, with around 10,500 athletes.

In Athens, the IOC formally accepted the criteria for judging which sports should be on the program.

Among the key points are global participation, spectator attendance, media interest, the sport's anti-doping policies, and whether the sport features the world's best athletes in the Olympics.

Removal of a sport requires a vote of the full IOC membership. The last sport dropped from the Summer Olympics was polo in 1936.

In 2002, Rogge proposed that baseball, softball and modern pentathlon be dropped from the games, and golf and rugby added. But IOC members resisted and put off any vote until after Athens.

The IOC this week sent out a 33-point questionnaire to all 28 Olympic sports federations. The form also went to golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports, which are among the 28 ``recognized'' federations not on the Olympic program.

The move rules out Olympic status for hopefuls such as bowling, water skiing, billiards, ballroom dancing, chess, bridge and surfing.

Golf and rugby have been top contenders for Olympic inclusion for a number of years. Karate is seeking to become the latest martial art in the games, which already has judo and taekwondo. Roller sports covers five disciplines -- artistic, downhill, hockey, inline hockey and speed events. Squash would add another racket sport, joining tennis, table tennis and badminton.

``We have fought for 20 years to achieve our dream of being on the Olympic program, in the sure knowledge that every top squash player would rank an Olympic medal as the greatest prize in the sport,'' World Squash Federation president emeritus Susie Simcock said in a statement.

``This review by the IOC is wonderful news for squash as we are now able to present our case for inclusion alongside the current Olympic sports and other major sports bidding for a place.''

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