Back

Tokyo Games 1% Shy Of Gender Parity

T
he Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have fallen just 1% short of reaching their 50% female athlete participation goal. 

Since 2014 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made it their mission to achieve a 50% participation gender model, a goal only 1% short of its target as of the Tokyo 2020 Games.  

According to the IOC, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic G,ames 49% of athletes will be women.

This is up from 45.6% at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and 44.2% at the 2012 London Olympics.

The exclusion of women in Olympic sport has been a progressive narrative, existing since 1896 when founder of the IOC, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, banned women from competing in the inaugural 1896 Games.

In 1900, 22 women were invited to compete in five female-only sports, while men were able to participate in every sport. 

Until 1952, only 10% of women participated in the Olympic games, with 2012 being the first year women were allowed to compete in most sports. 

In addition to progressing the female athlete participation rate, the IOC also encouraged participating countries to nominate one male and one female flag bearer at the 2021 Tokyo opening ceremony.

Nearly every country was represented by a female flag bearer for the first time in Olympic history. 

The makeup of the IOC however remains behind, with women making up only 33.3% of its executive board, and 37.5% of committee members being women.

The road to gender equality was slightly hindered this year when the president of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee was forced to resign after comments he made suggesting women speak too much in meetings. 

Earlier in March this year the creative director of the Tokyo Olympics also resigned from his role, after insulting a plus-size model by referring to her as an “olympig”.

Although some crucial slip-ups by members of the Olympic committee, the future of women in sport remains bright with constant changes to broad policy, increased funding, sponsorships, and broadcasting of female athletes in mainstream media all working towards the goal of equality. 

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics underway, questions are now raised as to whether the 2024 Olympic Games will close this gender parity for good.