Golf's Olympic inclusion questioned after high-profile no shows

Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:37am EDT
 
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Australian swimming great Dawn Fraser reignited the debate about whether golf deserved to be part of the Olympics after she criticized compatriot Adam Scott's decision to skip the Rio Games.   A gold medalist at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics, Fraser accused the world number seven golfer of putting money ahead of national pride.   "Very sorry to hear that Adam Scott cannot fit it into his schedule to play for Australia at the Olympics," Fraser, 78, wrote on Facebook.   "Well done Adam... great to put your country on hold so that you can fulfill your own schedule.   "How much money do you want in life? Not showing much for your country... I guess working three jobs a week to secure my place as a Olympic swimmer has given me the strength to say what I feel about sportsmen and women that do this."

Scott announced this week he would not compete in Rio, where golf will return to the Olympic program after a 112-year absence, because of scheduling conflicts "and other commitments, both personal and professional".

Golf was brought in for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics onwards, along with rugby, with the International Olympic Committee eager to tap into new markets and win new viewers with the two sports.

Scott is one of three high-profile golfers to have withdrawn from the Games.   Fiji's former world number one Vijay Singh and South African Louis Oosthuizen have also pulled out.   "I have always represented South Africa with pride so didn't make my decision without a great deal of thought," 2010 British Open winner Oosthuizen said in a statement.   "I would like to wish our golfers and all other athletes competing in Brazil all the very best for success."

Not all top players have turned their backs on the Olympics, however, with world number two Jordan Spieth of the United States hoping to make the journey to Rio.

"When I was really young, I always thought of the Olympians that walked in the opening ceremonies as the greatest-athletes-in-the-world type of thing," Spieth said.

"But once I chose golf, I didn't think it would ever be a reality. To be one of those athletes ... I would never forget that ceremony and that walk, walking with the American flag ... it will be awesome if I can make that team."

European Solheim Cup player Melissa Reid also harbor hopes of making it to Rio.

"I'd love to be a part of the Olympics," the part-time snowboarder and soccer player told Reuters.   Continued...

 
An aerial view of the construction site of the Rio 2016 Olympic Golf venue in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes