Admit women or lose Olympic hosting rights, IOC man tells club

Golfers in action at Kasumigaseki Country Club last month. Women cannot play there on Sundays and are not allowed as full members. International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates has made it clear the organisers would find another venue fo
Golfers in action at Kasumigaseki Country Club last month. Women cannot play there on Sundays and are not allowed as full members. International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates has made it clear the organisers would find another venue for the Olympics if the club did not implement gender equality.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAPPORO • The club scheduled to host golf in the 2020 Tokyo Games must allow women to have full membership or the organisers will have to find another venue, International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president John Coates told Reuters yesterday.

The private Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama prefecture, which is set to host both the men's and women's events in July and August 2020, forbids women from playing on Sundays and excludes them from becoming full members.

Coates, who is head of the coordination commission which oversees preparations for the Games, said he had only become aware of the issue on his last visit to Tokyo at the end of last year and that the organisers were now aware of the IOC's stance.

"We made quite clear that there has to be gender equality," the 66-year-old Australian told Reuters in an interview at the Asian Winter Games in the northern city of Sapporo. "If they can't achieve the gender equality then we have to get another course, but the organisers are very confident that they will."

The Japanese media reported that members of the club had met on Sunday to hear an explanation of the situation. The club was closed yesterday and nobody was available to comment.

Coates said he was aware that discussions were under way. "They either will or they won't," he said. "There's plenty of time to move to another golf course if we have to."

The Tokyo 2020 organisers unveiled a revised budget of US$16.8 billion (S$23.8 billion) in December and vowed to seek further savings in cooperation with the IOC.

Coates said the budget issue should be resolved some time this year and the final figure would be nowhere near the 3 trillion yen (S$40 billion) that a Tokyo city government panel forecast last year.

"The costs that were being speculated were vastly over-speculated," he said. "We haven't yet accepted a final budget. (It should be worked out) on this forthcoming visit or the one after."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Admit women or lose Olympic hosting rights, IOC man tells club'. Print Edition | Subscribe