POSTED: November 7th 2008

Charity begins with golf

Sergio Garcia hitting an approach shot with the style and star quality which golf hopes to bring to the Olympics /
Sergio Garcia hitting an approach shot with the style and star quality which golf hopes to bring to the Olympics /

LAURA WALDEN & KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

PONTE VEDRA: Golf's outstanding service to community and charity work and its exemplary ethos are key elements in the campaign to win Olympic entry approval for men's and women's individual competitions.

The IOC decides in Copenhagen next October between seven bid sports - as well as the host city for 2016 - and representatives of the International Golf Federation believes the sport "has a compelling story to tell."

"Obviously," says Tv Votaw, executive director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee, "we think the Olympics would be great for golf - and we would be honoured if we were selected - but we also think that golf would be very good for the Olympic Games.

"Our long-time culture and ethos of integrity and sportsmanship and giving back to society through charity and community service are famous.

Most disciplined of sports

"One of the IOC members we've met said he considered golf perhaps the most disciplined sport in the world in terms of integrity. The fact that golf players call themselves for something inadvertent which no-one else has seen - and sometimes don't win competitions as a result - would be a great fit with the Olympic tradition."

A recent economic impact study reported that sport generated US$76bn dollars overall on an annual basis, of which US$3bn was charity generation.

Votaw says: "No sport around the world contributes as much money to charity as golf; the PGA Tour alone contributes 125m on an annual basis. In fact, other sports hold golf tournaments to raise money for charity.

"We think all of those things match up very nicely to the Olympic ideal and Olympism."

Votaw also draws strength for the IGF's lobbying campaign from the expressions of support from leading players in both the men's and women's professional game.

Competing competitive pinnacles

He rejects fears that the financial power of the professional tours might deter the star names and points to examples of other sports with a high-profile Games presence despite the status of their own championships.

"Other sports associated with the Olympics have pinnacles of their own," says Votaw. "But it doesn't take away from the compelling nature of Olympic participation for tennis, soccer or basketball for example.

"You have Lebron James say this is the largest stage he has ever played on even though he has played NBA finals; you see Roger Federer carrying his country's flag into the opening ceremony for Switzerland; and you see Rafael Nadal with a tear rolling down his cheek at the gold medal ceremony then saying that in tennis the grand slams are the major things but if you are a sportsman Olympic achievement is the pinnacle.

"The top players in those sports find - and make - Olympic competition compelling and the same thing would happen with golf."

Keywords · Golf · IOC · Copenhagen · bid sports · International Golf Federation · Tv Votaw · IGF Olympic Golf Committee

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