International Rugby
IRB's Olympics dream a reality
October 9, 2009

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that Sevens will be included at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The announcement is the culmination of a concerted effort from the IRB, spearheaded by chairman Bernard Lapasset. Sevens, along with golf, was recommended for inclusion by the IOC Executive Board in Berlin in August and a final presentation, led by Lapasset, secured the vital majority that saw the sport admitted.

Rugby, that last featured in the 1924 Olympics in its 15-a-side form, has proposed a four-day tournament that would take place at the athletics stadium before the start of that part of the Games. The competition will replace the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament as the showpiece event in the international calendar that also includes the IRB World Sevens Series.

Lapasset called on IRB Secretary General Mike Miller, former Argentina captain Agustín Pichot, Cheryl Soon, captain of the Australia team that won the Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009, Kenya Sevens captain Humphrey Kayange, Anastassiya Khamova, one of Kazakhstan's top female players and New Zealand Rugby legend Jonah Lomu for his final push.

"This is a historic moment for our sport and for the global Rugby community, who were united in support of our campaign," said Lapasset. "We are excited and honoured to be joining the Olympic Games and I would like to thank the IOC members for believing in our Olympic vision and our values and recognising that Rugby Sevens is a perfect fit for the Olympic Games.

"The Olympic Games will be the pinnacle of the sport for all our athletes and the Rugby family. The best men's and women's players in the world are excited to be able to showcase their talent on the world's greatest sporting stage."

Sevens garnered 81 votes in favour and eight against, and golf 63 in favour and 27 against. Opposition to the decision came from Canadian Dick Pound, who argued that the committee had not been allowed the chance to vote on a full range of sports, with squash and karate among those sports excluded earlier this year.

"The fact is we were not allowed to consider all seven sports," he said. "That's a mistake, it's not fair to the other five sports, and because we do not know why this was decided it is not a transparent process. The session was asking for guidance not a decision that would be take it or leave it."


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