HALLE, Germany (Reuters) - Leading golfers and a global audience of more than half a billion people are the sport's biggest assets as it bids to rejoin the Olympic Games, according to the Olympic Golf Committee's executive director.
"Professional golf is televised each week in 231 countries, translated into 30 languages, with the reach of more than 589 million households," Ty Votaw told the Around the Rings website (www.aroundtherings.com) on Wednesday. The committee was set up to promote golf's bid to return to the Olympics.
"From a competitive standpoint, golf would bring many of the most recognizable international athletes to Olympic competition, thus further influencing the relevance and attraction of the Olympic Games throughout the world."
The sport, last played at the 1904 St Louis Games, is one of seven vying for Olympic entry for the 2016 Games as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seeks to modernize its Olympic program.
Baseball, karate, softball, squash, rugby and rollersports are the other candidates for up to two places on the program with a decision due in October.
The IOC is eager to revamp the program to attract younger fans and viewers and has insisted new sports should assure the presence of their top athletes to attract the largest possible audience during the Games.
Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie will plead golf's case in front of the IOC's executive board next week.
Votaw said no new facilities would need to be built for the sport given that all 2016 bid cities -- Tokyo, Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro -- had courses that with some modifications could host the Olympic golf competition. The host of the 2016 Games will also be chosen in October.
The IOC has said a maximum of two sports can come in but it could also vote to leave the 26-sport program as it is.
(Editing by John Mehaffey; to query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/10/AR2009061000589.html