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Gender Imbalance Prevents Netball’s Olympic Debut

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etball Australia has begun its pursuit to compete on the world’s biggest stage, the Olympic Games, but the sports female-dominated culture that was once considered a strength is now their greatest barrier. 

In a recent media release, Netball Australia has declared their intent to make Netball an Olympic sport, working closely with World Netball and the International Olympic Committee to achieve this goal by the Brisbane 2032 Games.

World Netball is an IOC-recognized sport and meets the criteria of an International Sports Federation (IF) status, which includes maintaining rules set forth by the Olympic Charter such as Anti-Doping Codes. 

However, the Olympic Charter also indicates that in order to be accepted, a sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents. 

This is where Netball falls short.

Netball is traditionally a female-dominated sport and was knocked back from the Tokyo 2020 Games, being told they needed to tighten the gender gap. 

Although, Netball Australia says male participation is increasing each year, “a growing number of men and boys are taking part in a range of competitions and pathways offered by the Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association, as well as a range of social competitions,” read the media release. 

Netball has been a Commonwealth sport since 1998 but is yet to reach the Olympic arena.

Netball Australia CEO, Kelly Ryan, said: “We want our junior netballers to dream of Olympic glory in the sport they love.”

“We want our netball fans, who are the proudest and most passionate supporters, to cheer on their favorite athletes as they compete in the green and gold with the whole world watching on,” she said. 

“Our sport deserves to be played on the biggest stage,” Ryan said. 

In Australia, netball is the biggest team sport for women and girls, but now the emphasis is on increasing male participation if World Netball is going to make it to the Brisbane 2032 Games.