Tokyo 2020 is set to be the first gender-equal Olympic Games, with almost 49 per cent female athlete participation.
Gender equality should be achieved both on and off the field of play, so ensuring female representation at senior levels of administration is key, too.
In line with the recommendations set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC has fostered gender equality, and sought to empower women.
Creating a fair sporting environment is vital to allow athletes to shine, and that equality amongst sportspeople should be represented throughout society. Increasing gender equality is a key priority with the introduction of multiple new policies and initiatives, and while progress has been made, there is still much more to accomplish, and we continue to set ambitious targets.
Athletes at Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020 will make history as the first gender-equal Olympic Games, with almost 49 per cent female athlete participation, which represents an increase from Rio 2016 (45 per cent).
As part of this increase in gender equality, each and every one of the 206 eligible teams (plus the IOC Refugee Olympic Team), will be represented by at least one female and one male athlete.
Another first at Tokyo 2020 is the rule modification which will allow all NOCs to nominate both a male and female athlete to jointly bear the flag at the Opening Ceremony, with all NOCs encouraged to do so.
IOC President Thomas Bach expressed his support for these rule changes saying, “With these two initiatives, the IOC is sending another extremely strong message to the world that gender balance is a reality at the Olympic Games.”
Tokyo 2020 administration
While the work to balance gender equality on the field of play is vital, it’s also important that women are given a chance to shine off the field, too. One of the key recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020 was to foster gender equality and to look beyond participation at the Olympic Games itself.
The Chef de Mission of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 will be Tegla Loroupe. She is the first woman from Africa to win the New York marathon, is a three-time Olympian, and a world record-holder for many years. Also, Anita DeFrantz will be the IOC’s First Vice-President at Tokyo 2020. She was an African-American bronze medallist at Montreal 1976, and is a trailblazer for women’s empowerment.
The IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) is the voice of athletes at the IOC, and it is currently led by Kirsty Coventry, with Danka Bartekova as Vice-Chair. Both women are decorated Olympians, with Danka also qualified to compete at Tokyo 2020.
Olympic Agenda 2020 and beyond
While there is much more work to be done, it is also important to look back at what has been achieved so far and remind ourselves of the importance of gender equality in sport.
Female IOC membership today stands at 37.5 per cent, compared with 21 per cent at the start of Olympic Agenda 2020, with female representation on the IOC EB up to 33.3 per cent from 26.6 per cent over the same period.
The IOC has also forged an MoU with UN-Women on the advancement of gender equality, with President Bach also appointed by the organisation as a HeforShe Champion in recognition of the IOC’s work on gender equality.
With these two initiatives, the IOC is sending another extremely strong message to the world that gender balance is a reality at the Olympic Games.
IOC President Thomas Bach