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Published: Monday, 10/19/2009

New Olympic sports

ANYONE who argues about which

sports deserve to be played in the summer Olympic Games has to acknowledge that eccentricity, caprice, and politics have influenced choices. How else to explain synchronized swimming or beach volleyball?

The argument goes on. For the 2016 games in Rio de Janerio, golf and rugby have been added to the roster of sports after long absences, thanks to a decision last week by the International Olympic Committee. Among the losers are baseball and softball, which had earlier been voted out for the London 2012 games and were seeking re-instatement.

The original beefs about baseball were various - drug scandals, Major League players not being available - and softball's problem was the overall dominance of the American women, although they did lose the gold medal to Japan in Beijing. The bigger challenge for both was the perception that they are too American.

Golf, however, is played the world over and to a surprising extent so is rugby. Indeed, the United States won Olympic gold medals in rugby in 1920 and 1924. For Rio, the rugby will be a wide-open, fast-paced variant called sevens, featuring seven players on a team instead of the usual 15.

Both the new sports are likely to be crowd pleasers. Who wouldn't want to see if a star like Tiger Woods can win a gold medal? For rugby, the women may have a better chance than the men, but anyone who likes the running game in American football will like this competition. Politics aside, these Olympic committee choices are more logical than eccentric.

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