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Seven different sports submit proposals for 2016 Olympics

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LONDON - From golf to roller speedskating, the seven sports vying for inclusion in the 2016 Summer Games have submitted their proposals to the International Olympic Committee.

Baseball, softball, rugby sevens, squash and karate also sent in their documents by this week's deadline providing answers to 80 questions, the IOC said Thursday.

The seven sports are competing for a maximum of two openings on the 2016 program. The decision will be made in October at the IOC session in Copenhagen, where the 2016 Olympic host city will also be selected from Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC program commission will evaluate the sports federations' documents and submit a preliminary report to the executive board in June.

In Copenhagen, the IOC general assembly will vote en bloc on the continuation of the existing 26 sports. The voting procedure for the potential addition of one or two new sports has yet to be finalized.

IOC members voted in 2005 to drop baseball and softball for the 2012 London Olympics.

Rugby sevens, squash, golf, karate and roller sports were each considered for inclusion in the 2005 vote but all failed to win a required two-thirds majority. The system has since been changed to require only a simple majority for addition of new sports.

The International Golf Federation is proposing a 72-hole stroke play Olympic tournament for men and women, with 60 players in each field. In the case of a tie, a three-hole playoff would be held to determine the medallists.

The top-15 players in the world rankings would qualify automatically.

Golf organizations have agreed to adjust their summer schedules to ensure that no major championships conflict with the Olympic tournament.

Golf instituted regular drug-testing last year, putting the sport in line with Olympic requirements.

"Never before, in both mind and spirit, have all levels of golf around the world been so united towards a single goal," the golf bodies said in a letter to the IOC.

Softball, meanwhile, continues to distance itself from baseball, stressing that its best players all go to the Olympics and that the sport has had no positive doping tests at the elite level.

The International Softball Federation also says the women's sport is growing in popularity around the world, including in developing and Middle East countries where female participation in team sports is rare.

"These are crucial times for softball and we are convinced that we adhere closely to the values which reflect the Olympic movement," ISF president Don Porter said.

The International Baseball Federation insists its Olympic hopes should not be hurt by the high-profile doping controversies in Major League Baseball involving such stars as Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

"Despite some of the recent headlines, baseball as a sport has never been better positioned globally for success," IBAF president Harvey Schiller said.

The fact that major league players haven't taken part in previous Olympic tournaments - which take place during the regular season - is also an issue. But Schiller said the federation has several proposals on the table that would allow MLB players to take part, including cramming the entire Olympic tournament into five days.

"Baseball is big business and you don't have to shut (the league) down to have the best players in the Olympics," he said Thursday in Tokyo. "Just as the Premier League doesn't stop playing football."

Rugby was played at the 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924 Olympics.

The International Rugby Board is proposing rugby sevens tournaments for men and women with 12, 16 or 20 teams.

While 15-a-side rugby union is the premier version of the game, IRB secretary general Mike Miller said sevens has "unique attributes" that fit Olympic competition.

Miller said the Olympic tournaments can be played over two or three days, "require limited infrastructure and overlay investment and can take place in existing stadia."

The World Squash Federation says the sport is played by over 20 million people in 175 countries and could easily be integrated into the Olympics.

"Requiring just two perspex courts that can be located anywhere, it is an extremely cost effective and highly exciting spectator sport," the federation said. "Squash can also state with certainty that an Olympic medal would be the highest honour in the sport, bar none."

The roller sports federation proposes five men's and five women's speedskating races over three days, with 50 men and 50 women competing in sprint and distance events. Speeds in sprint races can reach 60 kilometres an hour.

"It is a young, dynamic, fast-paced and athletic spectacular sport," FIRS secretary general Robert Marotta said.

The World Karate Federation claims 100 million members in 180 countries and says it is the most popular martial arts in the world.

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