Olympic sports fall short of gender equality at board level

Japan 2020

FILE – In this March 30, 2020, file photo, a man jogs past the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Former Olympic minister Toshiaki Endo said at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Friday, June 5, 2020, that a decision of whether to hold the Games should be made around March, which is a crucial time to finalize participating athletes, NHK said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

GENEVA (AP) — A review of Olympic sports bodies published Tuesday found none had equal representation of women on their ruling boards.

Men were able to stay in high office because more than one-quarter of governing bodies had no term limits for presidents and other elected officials, according to an Association of Summer Olympic International Federations survey of 31 sports on the Tokyo Olympic program.

Only one of the 31 achieved more than 40% of women on its board, and 18 had female representation of 25% or less.

“It is fair to say there is still a long way to go,” said Rowland Jack, a governance expert advising Lausanne-based ASOIF. “The amount of work being done varies considerably from one sport to another.”

The gender gap is comparable to the International Olympic Committee, which has four women on its 15-member executive board, or 27% representation. On the field of play, the IOC targets gender equality for athletes competing at the Olympics.

With some Olympic bodies having presidents stay in office for two decades and more, the latest review showed nine of 31 summer sports still had no policy to curb presidential terms.

“We are generally in favor of term limits,” ASOIF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said on a conference call. “Sports has to be well governed to be credible.”

The ASOIF review is the third since 2016 in a process aiming to raise standards and transparency in the often scandal-hit area of sports governance. The latest study showed improved scores with 24 of 27 core Summer Games sports reaching a target of 120 points from a maximum 200.

Soccer body FIFA was one of only six totaling at least 170 points across five areas assessed: transparency, integrity, democracy, development and control mechanisms.

“A lot of progress has been achieved over the past years and the overall trend is clearly positive,” Ricci Bitti said.

The three sports falling short of 120 were the troubled International Weightlifting Federation, swimming body FINA, and the International Judo Federation.

The 20-year IWF presidency of Tamas Ajan ended in recent weeks during an investigation of suspected corruption. Boxing body AIBA did not take part in the review because it is not currently recognized by the IOC.

“There are still large gaps between the best and weakest (international federations),” the review concluded.

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