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(SFC) Ladies have competed within the Summer time
Olympics since 1900. Nevertheless it has taken greater than a century for them to have even
approached the identical variety of rivals as the lads. That is scarcely
shocking as a result of for years many sporting pursuits have been deemed unladylike or
even damaging to ladies’s well being.

In 1900, a complete of twenty-two females took half in
5 occasions: tennis, golf, crusing, croquet and equestrianism, though this
was solely 2.2 % of all of the rivals in Paris. There have been ladies within the
aquatic programme for the primary time 12 years later in Stockholm they usually have been
admitted to athletics and gymnastics in 1928, albeit in a restricted vary of

Maybe probably the most vital breakthrough
got here when the Netherlands’ Fanny Blankers-Koen gained 4 athletics gold medals
in 1948 and have become the unquestioned star of these London Video games. She put ladies into
the centre of the Olympic area.

In Rio, the share of girls within the
Video games was forty five.2 % and by 2020 this can rise to forty eight.eight % following the
current assembly of the Government Board of the Worldwide Olympic Committee
(IOC). In finalising the programme for Tokyo, the IOC has added extra occasions, whereas
nonetheless looking for to limit the general variety of rivals to 10,500,
one thing it failed to realize in 2016.

There have been enterprising additions,
lots of them interesting to the younger, a essential audience for the IOC,
all the time involved on the age profile of these individuals within the Video games,
akin to BMX freestyle and three x three basketball. In some sports activities, the worldwide
federations have been informed to drop males’s classes to incorporate extra ladies.
Boxing and weightlifting are two of them. Whereas in others, there was an
improve of girls’s prominence within the Video games by means of the addition of combined

This appears most welcome. Triathlon is one
such an occasion, whereas in athletics, there might be a combined four x four hundred metres and a
comparable make-up in swimming with a four x one hundred metres medley. Understanding which intercourse
ought to participate on which leg will present a stimulus to the preparation for
the Video games and a fascination for spectators when the occasions happen.

I’m much less completely satisfied at a few of the different
additions to the programme. In swimming, to have two extra freestyle occasions, a
males’s 800 metres and a ladies’s 1500 metres, dangers having particular person swimmers
with the ability to acquire a number of medals in disciplines, which don’t make
sufficiently numerous bodily calls for on them to justify their inclusion.

In athletics, it might be unimaginable for
anybody these days to win three medals in the identical Video games at say, the 800 metres,
the 1500 metres and in addition the 5,000 metres. However in swimming, due to the
nature of the game, one is ready to compete at one’s peak or very near it
in two or extra occasions, separated by just a few minutes relaxation. It has occurred
already within the aquatic programme, with swimmers participating in different strokes or
in relays in addition to freestyle, and little question will occur once more. By all means,
for ladies, have a 1,500 metres freestyle however then drop the 800 metres so making
the programme the identical because it has been for males.

The aquatic disciplines now complete forty nine,
in comparison with athletics forty eight, and given the primacy of monitor and subject within the
historical past of the Video games, that additionally appears unlucky. If a brand new occasion needed to be
added to the programme, I might have thought excessive diving, an exciting spectacle
in actuality and on tv and one demanding large braveness would have been particularly

The IOC needs innovation and gender
equality. It has taken a welcome step alongside this path. It now wants for 2024 to
make sure that 50 % of members are ladies. It’s a small however nonetheless
symbolic step from forty eight.eight %. And I’m positive it’ll come sooner, moderately than
later. Ideally sooner.

** JOHN GOODBODY will cowl the 2016 Olympics for The
Sunday Occasions, his thirteenth successive Summer time Video games and is the writer of the audio
guide A Historical past of the Olympics, learn by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He
was Sports activities Information Correspondent of The Occasions 1986-2007, for whom he acquired
journalistic awards in all three many years on the paper, together with Sports activities
Reporter of The Yr in 2001.  

****The views
expressed are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially characterize the views of
Sports activities Options Communications.

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