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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 16 - 22  > Sport world still tainted with gender discrimination
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2017 August 16 - 22 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Sport world still tainted with gender discrimination

August 17, 2017
Akahata ‘current’ column

During this time of the year, Japanese broadcasters air a number of baseball games of various levels. During the daytime, Japan’s sole public broadcaster, NHK, as usual broadcasts live all the games in the national high school baseball championship, the annual tournament played by all boy teams representing 47 prefectures. The live coverage of Japan’s professional baseball games is also popular. In addition, fans can enjoy Major League Baseball games through satellite broadcasting networks.

As these are men’s events, coverage of male athletes dominates TV sport news programs. Male players of soccer and golf usually receive more media attention than female players. In the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, Japanese media became excited about the Japanese men’s team performing very well in short-distance and walking races. A survey conducted a few years ago found that 80-90% of sports event broadcasts dealt with men’s games.

The London competition was the first World Championship to hold a women’s 50-kilometer walking race, which had previously been only for men. Female athletes’ strong demands pushed the IAAF to hold this event in addition to a women’s 20-kilometer race walk.

Only seven female race walkers took part in the 50km event because the IAAF initially used the same entry standards as men. The first champion, Portugal’s Ines Henriques, said that she will train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 37-year-old athlete hoped that both women’s and men’s 50km race walk events will be held in the next Summer Games.

Although the number of female athletes is growing, male centrism is deep rooted in news media and elsewhere in the sport world. The Olympic Charter stipulates that every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport “without discrimination of any kind”, but gender discrimination still exists in social settings and recognition surrounding athletes.

International competitive sport organizations are working to eliminate the border between women and men by removing gender differences in rules and events as well as by adding mixed gender events. Japan should work harder to create a society in which women and men can enjoy sport on an equal basis. This is the way to achieve sport-based national development, the goal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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