When the next Summer Olympic Games open with a ceremony on Aug. 5, 2016, a number of important changes will already be at work. Here are a few of the major changes to keep in mind.
The most noticeable modification for most viewers will be the addition of two new sports. 2016 will mark the return of golf and rugby to the Games.
Golf returns after a long Olympic absence
Golf was last played as an Olympic event during the 1904 St. Louis Games at Glen Echo Country Club. For the Rio Games, there will be both a men’s and women’s event.
The format will be familiar to anybody who has watched a standard PGA tour event. According to the International Golf Federation, a field of 60 golfers will play a 72-hole stroke play tournament, and the lowest three cumulative scores will medal. Any ties involving the top three will be broken by a three-hole playoff.
Qualifications for the golf event will take a unique format to ensure a wide range of participating nations. The top 15 players based on world ranking will automatically qualify. After the top 15 bids, qualification will still be based on world rankings, but with a maximum of two golfers from any particular country.
The events will be held at a brand-new course currently under construction in Barra da Tijuca. The proposed course and location was selected as part of an open design competition.
Introducing Rugby Sevens
Making its debut as an Olympic Sport is rugby sevens. Again, there will be both a men’s and women’s competition.
According to the International Rugby Board (IRB), sevens is slightly different from the more widely recognizable rugby union, which was last played as an Olympic sport in 1924. Sevens is a match between teams of seven rather than 15. Matches are much shorter than the typical 80 minutes of a union match. What isn’t different is that sevens remains a full-contact sport, and therefore likely to draw excited crowds in Rio.
The IRB is still developing the qualification process for the games. Brazil is guaranteed a squad as the host nation.
Changes in Olympic Boxing
The International Boxing Association has made two substantial changes for the upcoming Olympic Games. The most visible is that boxers will no longer be wearing headgear during matches. The second is a change in scoring to the 10-point professional-style system.
The changes are significant because Olympic boxing has made a point to distinguish itself from professional boxing in order to emphasize the amateur nature of all of its athletes. The changes move the sport closer to its professional counterpart, both stylistically and technically.
Boxing will again feature both men’s and women’s contests, which was one of the more notable changes to the 2012 Games.