It’s not a typical sight in Brazil- sports fans are more likely to be running after a ball than trying to hit it with a club. Sao Paulo’s Golf Federation are working to popularize a sport that for now has only limited appeal, among the country’s elite.
CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral reports.
“Unfortunately I have to agree that it is an elite sport. But there are programs and project that are trying to change this but right now we can’t go against this fact. Most people can’t access it,” said Tais Gomes, a golf instructor.
The kids don’t have a big local star to look up to…But having two Brazilians playing in the Olympics could be a start. Adilson da Silva and Miriam Nagl will represent the country.
But locals won’t be able to see some of the sport’s best players including Number One ranked Australian Jason Day. He tops a list that includes Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy with most of the top four citing concerns over the Zika virus.
“It’s obviously a pretty big statement for me and my team to obviously pull from the Olympics with the understanding of what’s going on down there with regards to the Zika virus. It was a very difficult decision to make,” Australian Golfer Jason Day said.
The head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, said the absence of these players will weigh heavy in deciding whether to keep golf in the Olympics in future years.
Brazilian enthusiasts still hope the return of golf to the Olympics the same year their country hosts the games will help popularize the sport, though they said more needs to be done.
Paulo Pacheco, President of Brazilian Golf Confederation said they want to make golf cheap and east to open the door to everybody.
The return of golf to the Olympics here in Brazil was reason for much excitement among the enthusiasts of the sport in this country. But the construction of the new Olympic course caused much controversy.
When the project was announced environmentalists camped at the construction site and public prosecutors tried to stop the project said it was on protected land. But in the end the courts allowed construction to continue.
Mayor Eduardo Paes used old satellite pictures of the area to try to prove the land was degraded as far back as the 1980’s. He said that’s the land where the golf course was in the 1980’s, and the alleged environmental reserve that they said was destroyed.
However, there are still concerns over who will benefit from the golf course, other than the construction companies allowed to build residential towers next to it. For now, golf remains a sport for very few.
It will be up to Brazil’s next generation to decide if that changes.
Jay Coffin on Olympics and the future of the golf business
For more about Brazil Olympic and the future of the golf business, CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo interviewed Jay Coffin, senior director of Editorial of GolfChannel.com