A post grad journalism student of SIMC, Pune with a passion for using words to get my message across in the most unique ways possible and curiosity is the force that drives me to learn and experience more every day.
One hundred twenty-five years after the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, for the first time, Olympic games will witness almost a level field in terms of gender participation. On March 8, marked as International Women's Day, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) boasted that Tokyo 2021 would be the "first-ever gender-balanced Olympic Games in history."
According to the IOC quota allocation, almost 49 per cent of the athletes participating in this year's Games will be women, which is the highest ever.
Although the modern Olympics started in 1896, the Paris Games 1900 were the first to accept female participants, with 22 female competitors in non-athletic events like tennis and golf. Over the next 125 years, female participation has gradually increased. However, the number of women's events reached only half the men's events in 1992, almost a century since the Athens Games. The last three Games, namely Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016, had 42 per cent, 44 per cent and 45 per cent of women participants, respectively.
According to The Times of India, five major countries, namely China, United States, Great Britain, Australia and Canada, are sending more women athletes than men. British Olympic Association, representing the United Kingdom has 201 female participants out of the total 376 athletes. The United States is sending 329 women and 284 men participants. Women (298) participants are more than double that of men (133) participants in the Tokyo Games from China's contingent. Out of the total 370 athletes representing Canada, 225 are women. Meanwhile, Australia will send 252 women athletes and 219 men.
India is sending a total of 127 athletes, out of which 71 are men, and 56 are women, with a 44 per cent women participation from India, two per cent less than in the Rio Games 2016.
The International Olympic Committee added 18 new events to the Tokyo Games to push towards gender equity, with nine more mixed events than at Rio Games 2016. Excluding baseball and softball, there are an equal number of male and female participants in every sport, reported The Indian Express.
More women participants meant fewer opportunities for men. One hundred women boxers will feature in five classes instead of 36 fighters over three classes, like in Rio 2016. However, two men's classes were dropped. Weightlifting will see equal participation with seven teams for both men and women, but it happened after a men's team was removed. While the IOC introduced women's canoeing to the Tokyo Games, they dropped men's 200 and men's kayak double 200, which met with unfavourable reactions from the male athletes.
Rifle shooting went through the most changes with men's prone rifle, men's free pistol and men's double trap dropped and replaced with mixed team events in air rifle, air pistol and trap.
However, men's sports also saw an addition. For the first time since 1904, in Swimming, men's 800 free returned to the competition. IOC also added the 1,500-meter freestyle for women and mixed-gender relay in Swimming for the first time.
The IOC has demanded that the five new sports added to the Tokyo Games – baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing, will also have an equal number of male and female participants. IOC President Thomas Bach had previously said that IOC is committed to gender equality in all areas – not just in athletes competing on and off the field of play but also in leadership roles in sports organizations.
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