The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, has approved rugby sevens and golf for the 2016 Olympics, but left off baseball, softball and three other sports.  The vote opens the way for Tiger Woods and other top professionals to earn Olympic gold.

The IOC Executive Committee Board approved the two sports' inclusion by secret ballot in Berlin.

International Golf Federation Executive Director Ty Votaw said at the PGA Championship in Minnesota that he is delighted by the news.

"We are obviously thrilled with this announcement.  It takes an important step for golf to return as an Olympic sport," said Votaw.

Golf was played at the 1900 Paris Olympics and 1904 St. Louis Games.  Tiger Woods and other top players have indicated they would play in the Olympics, if the sport is approved.  The 106-member IOC Assembly will vote on the move in Copenhagen in October.

Seven sports had been vying for inclusion in the 2016 Games.  Baseball, softball, karate, squash and roller sports were not included on the program.

The decision means that the five rejected sports cannot come to the Games as an alternative option, if one of the approved sports is voted down.

Rugby has been played in four different Olympics.  Rugby sevens is a smaller version of the 15-player-a-side game.  The International Rugby Board would scrap its Sevens World Cup to ensure the Olympics is the sport's top event.

The vote is especially painful for advocates of baseball and softball, which were left off the 2012 London program.  Baseball could not persuade major leaguers to take part.  Softball debuted in the 1996 Atlanta Games, and was played at last year's Olympics in Beijing.