Norman: Golf Should Be In Olympics

Greg Norman will put some of his millions toward helping his homeland play host to the 2000 Olympics, although his sport won't be on the schedule.

Norman, whose success in golf has put virtually anything he wants within his reach, admitted Friday that golf's absence from the Olympic sports program was a continuing source of frustration.

"I've always been very confused by the fact it's not in there," Norman said. "When I see the NBA delivers its Dream Team to the Olympics, I think golf's a little bit more popular on a global basis than basketball is."

Golf is recognized by the Olympic movement and there were failed bids to have it included as a demonstration sport in the Atlanta Olympics.

International Olympic Committee officials have expressed support for golf to follow other top pro sports such as tennis and basketball as the games have been opened to the world's richest athletes.

"Hopefully one day, if we all just chip away, the water torture trick, the message might get in," Norman said. He said Spanish player Seve Ballesteros had spoken to IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch about the issue "on an almost continual basis for years and years."

For now, Norman's Olympic experience will be restricted to raising money for the struggling Sydney organizing committee (SOCOG).

Norman's Great White Shark Enterprises has entered a deal with SOCOG to supply his trademark hats to about 50,000 Olympic volunteers.

SOCOG marketing boss John Moore has admitted the organization is about $200 million short of its $874 million marketing target with less than two years to go. Norman's decision to throw his hats into the ring won't help SOCOG raise the shortfall but he has pledged to help further.

He will pass the hat around in the corporate circles he frequents, urging companies to support the games, and will stage some special pro-am events with the proceeds flowing to Australia's Olympic team.

"The question I'll answer before you ask it is what is the value of this relationship? I'd like to tell you that it's priceless," Moore said.

Norman said his contacts should produce results.

"Because I live in the United States and the involvement I have in a lot of the high-profile companies and the branching out of my business, I have the opportunity to knock on a few doors that I wouldn't have four or five years ago," Norman said. "It's just a logical extension of business. It's priceless because I'm going to put a lot into it."

SOCOG has yet to decide who will light the flame during the opening ceremony but Moore said he kept hearing that Norman should get to chip a flaming golf ball into the cup.

Norman was coy about any official role.

"I don't know what capacity I'll be in there, but I'll be there," Norman said.

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