Senior golf executives have expressed their confidence that the sport has done enough to secure long-term status on the Olympic Programme following its successful return at the summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Golf returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, but entered the Games under a cloud following the withdrawal of a number of star names from the men’s side of the game, including the top four of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
However, the men’s tournament saw a thrilling showdown between Justin Rose (pictured) and Henrik Stenson, with the Brit prevailing over his Swedish rival on the final hole. Meanwhile, the women’s event, which was not overly affected by the withdrawal of star names, saw Korea’s Inbee Park claim gold, with New Zealand’s world No.1 Lydia Ko only making certain of silver on the final hole.
Ahead of the Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said the withdrawal of the top men will be taken into account when evaluating the sport’s future on the Olympic programme. All events will be analysed next year to determine whether they will remain in place for the 2024 Games.
Peter Dawson, president of the International Golf Federation (IGF), said in a statement: “We were always confident that we would deliver high-quality men's and women's competitions and we have witnessed that over the last two weeks.
“Golf's success has been endorsed by strong viewing figures throughout the world and genuine interest from enthusiastic crowds in Rio. To see medallists crowned from six different nations is hugely gratifying.
“It is very important that we continue to be a supportive, contributing member of the Olympic family. We believe the values of our sport complement those of the Olympic movement and I am both hopeful and confident that we will continue to play our part beyond 2020.”
Golf’s claims are likely to be further boosted by the fact that the 2020 Games will take place in Tokyo, with Japan being a significant market for the sport. “If I had concerns before, I don't have those concerns anymore,” Ladies European Tour (LET) chief executive Ivan Khodabakhsh told UK broadcaster the BBC.
“The sport has certainly proved itself. We can also look forward to Tokyo, where golf has a much higher status, and with the television numbers we already have I have no doubt we will stay on board.”
However, Khodabakhsh is keen to see a format change from the one used at Rio 2016. He added: “If the IOC would allow us, I think we should include a mixed format in addition, without taking away from anything we have now.”