One year out: What’s new for Rio 2016

Carlin Isles
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The Rio Olympics will include two sports returning to the Games for the first time in nearly a century.

Golf, last played at St. Louis 1904, and rugby, last played at Paris 1924, were added to the Olympic program in 2009, with implementation happening in 2016.

The Rio Olympic golf tournaments will be individual 72-hole stroke-play affairs, with separate men’s and women’s fields of 60 golfers each.

The fields will be determined by world rankings with a maximum of four men or women per nation (and no more than two if at least one of the golfers is outside the top 15 in the world rankings).

There will very likely be U.S. men’s and women’s golfers and South Korean women’s golfers in the world top 20 who don’t qualify for Rio 2016. To fill the field of 60, the qualifying procedure will likely dip into the 300s or 400s in the rankings.

The men’s tournament will run in the first week of the Games from Aug. 11-14 (Thursday-Sunday). The women’s tournament will be in the second week from Aug. 17-20 (Wednesday-Saturday).

The Rio Olympic rugby fields will include 12 men’s and women’s nations, including the U.S. in both genders. The women’s medal matches will come first (Aug. 8) followed by the men’s (Aug. 11).

It’s a different kind of rugby than previously played at the Olympics. The Rio version is rugby sevens, with seven players per side (versus 15 for the 20th-century version) and seven-minute halves with a short halftime break.

Other changes you might notice at the Rio Olympics, the first Games in South America:

* Kosovo and South Sudan marching in the Opening Ceremony for the first time.

* The first Olympians born in the year 2000.

* Boxers no longer wearing headgear, and some professional boxers competing.

* Roger Federer and Martina Hingis playing doubles.

* A total of 13 morning track and field finals.

* One fewer men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling weight class and two more women’s freestyle weight classes to make it six each for men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Watch NBC Olympics one year out promo video