New sports clear barrier

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The Independent Online
Ballroom dancing, rugby and surfing have cleared another hurdle in their bid to become Olympic sports. But they will have to compete with two dozen other sports seeking inclusion in the games.

The federations representing the three sports have received formal recognition from the International Olympic Committee, the IOC sports director, Gilbert Felli, announced yesterday.

The International Dance Sport Federation, the International Rugby Football Board and the International Surfing Association received provisional recognition for their sports two years ago.

Felli said the recognition was upgraded to permanent status during the IOC session held last weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland. Felli stressed that the recognition does not guarantee the sports will be included on the Olympic programme. Dancing, rugby and surfing join several other sports that have already received IOC recognition.

Other recognised sports vying for inclusion in the Olympic Games include acrobatics, mountain climbing, billiards, golf, karate, korfball, netball, orienteering, roller skating, basque pelota, polo, bowling, racquetball, water skiing and squash.

Felli said 11 other sports federations have applied for IOC recognition and 18 others have made approaches. Some of the sports could be included in the World Games.

With the programme for the 2000 games in Sydney virtually finalised, it appears the earliest any new sports could be included would be at the 2004 games in Athens.

Triathlon and taekwondo have been added for Sydney and the IOC last week approved the addition of women's water polo, trampolining and whitewater canoeing for Sydney.

Felli has not ruled out golf being included in Sydney, although Australian organisers consider their sports programme closed. If golf is approved as an Olympic sport, it would be open to all professionals.