IOC Statement on gender equality in the Olympic Movement

09 Feb 2021
IOC News IOC Statements

Inclusion, diversity and gender equality are integral components of the work of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

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Over the past 25 years, the IOC has played an important role in promoting women in and through sport, and it will continue to do so by setting ambitious targets. In the challenging context we live in, now more than ever, diversity is a fundamental value that we need to respect and draw strength from.

The recent comments of Tokyo 2020 President Mori were absolutely inappropriate and in contradiction to the IOC’s commitments and the reforms of its Olympic Agenda 2020. He apologised and later made a number of subsequent comments.

Besides Mr Mori’s apology, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee (OCOG) also considers his comment to be inappropriate and has reaffirmed its commitment to gender equality.

As the leader of the Olympic Movement, we are committed to our mission to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures, as stated in the Olympic Charter.

On the one hand, the IOC has a strong record on gender equality (see below), and will continue to build on this. On the other hand, we stand ready to support the OCOG and other organisations in their desired aims within their spheres of responsibility.

The IOC’s decisions, achievements and commitments in this respect include:

  1. With female athlete participation of almost 49 per cent, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be the first gender-equal Olympic Games.

  2. The IOC is requesting all 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for the first time ever to have at least one female and one male athlete in their respective Olympic teams.

  3. The IOC has for the first time ever allowed and encouraged all 206 NOCs to have their flag carried by one female and one male athlete at the Opening Ceremony.

  4. The Chef de Mission of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 will be Ms Tegla Loroupe, an advocate for peace, the refugee cause, education and women's rights. The first woman from Africa to win the New York marathon, she is also a three-time Olympian and a world record-holder for many years.

  5. The IOC’s First Vice-President at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be Ms Anita DeFrantz, an African-American bronze medallist at the Olympic Games Montreal 1976, who is a trailblazer for women’s empowerment.

  6. At the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the athletes will be represented by the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC), the majority of whose members are directly elected by the athletes themselves. The IOC AC consists of 11 female and 6 male members. The Chair of the AC and member of the IOC Executive Board is Ms Kirsty Coventry, a five-time Olympian and winner of seven Olympic medals. The Vice-Chair is Ms Danka Bartekova, a three-time Olympian and bronze medallist at the Olympic Games London 2012, who has also already qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

  7. Based on a Memorandum of Understanding, the IOC is closely working with UN-Women on the advancement of gender equality. The IOC President has been appointed by UN-Women as a HeforShe Champion in recognition of the IOC’s contribution and commitment to gender equality.

  8. Today, female IOC membership stands at 37.5 per cent, up from 21 per cent at the start of Olympic Agenda 2020.

  9. Female representation on the IOC Executive Board stands at 33.3 per cent, versus 26.6 per cent pre-Olympic Agenda 2020.

  10. Women account for 47.8 per cent of the members of the IOC’s commissions, compared with 20.3 per cent pre-Olympic Agenda 2020.

  11. Female employees represent 53 per cent of the IOC administration.

For all these reasons, the athletes, all Olympic stakeholders and the general public can rest assured that the IOC will continue to deliver on its commitment to gender equality, inclusivity, solidarity and non-discrimination.

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