The venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournament could have the event taken away unless it grants equal playing rights to female members, the International Committee (IOC) has warned.
Kasumigaseki Country Club, a private golf course in Saitama prefecture, north-west of Tokyo, forbids women from becoming full members and from playing on Sundays.
The club is due to host the men’s and women’s tournaments in 2020, four years after golf was reinstated as an Olympic sport in Rio last summer.
But in an intervention that could result in more disruption to preparations for the Tokyo Games, the IOC’s vice president, John Coates, said organisers would have to find another venue if the Kasumigaseki club retained its discriminatory membership policy.
“We made quite clear that there has to be gender equality,” Coates told Reuters at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, northern Japan. “If they can’t achieve the gender equality then we have to get another course, but the organisers are very confident that they will.”
Japanese media said the club’s board had met last weekend but had failed to reach a consensus. All 15 members of the board must agree on any changes to the club’s bylaws. An earlier meeting also ended without agreement, with some members reportedly complaining that the club was being browbeaten into changing its rules.
“We discussed how we should respond after we ask our members how they feel,” the board’s chairman, Kiichi Kimura, told reporters after the meeting. “It’s extremely annoying the situation has evolved into what it is so quickly. Right now, we’re confused.”
The club is…
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