Women at the Olympics
The participation of women at the Olympics has always been below 50%. It has risen from about 10% until World War II to 45% in 2012. Certain sports that have been historically popular with women often are not included in the Olympics or are only recent additions to the games. The 2012 Olympics were the first Games in which all disciplines had both a male and a female equivalent. The Olympics made it harder to get new sports included in Olympic programme.
- 1 Attending the games
- 2 Media coverage
- 3 The Games
- 4 Sports
- 5 Around the world
- 6 See also
- 7 Women's sports
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
Attending the games
In some countries like Australia, getting funding for women to participate in the Olympics during the early years of the Games was difficult. Twenty years ago, the Australian swimming federation did not want to spend money to send female athletes to compete in the games; rather, they wanted to spend money to fund more participation of male swimmers. Sending a woman athlete (like Thelma Kench from New Zealand in 1932) also required the extra cost of a chaperone with the team.
Historically, coverage and inclusion of women's team sports in the Olympics has been limited. Instead, the media focuses on female athletes in non-team competitions and on team sports played equally by both genders.
The role American women at the Olympics gained in importance and visibility compared to their male American peers.
|This section is incomplete. (July 2012)|
While men's road and track cycling have been Olympic disciplines since the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, there were no women's cycling events in the Olympic programme until the 1984 Games in Los Angeles when the first women's road race was held. The first track cycling event for women followed in 1988, but the 2012 London Games were the first with equal numbers of events for men and women, which entailed a reduction in the number of men's events as well as an increase in the number of women's events. The disciplines of mountain biking and BMX were introduced in 1996 and 2008 respectively, with separate men's and women's events from the outset.
At the 99th IOC Session in July 1992, the IOC voted to approve women's hockey as an Olympic event beginning with the 1998 Winter Olympics as part of their effort to increase the number of female athletes at the Olympics. Women's hockey had not been in the programme when Nagano, Japan had won the right to host the Olympics, and the decision required approval by the Nagano Winter Olympic Organizing Committee (NWOOC). The NWOOC was initially hesitant to include the event because of the additional costs of staging the tournament and because they felt their team, which had failed to qualify for that year's World Championships, could not be competitive. According to Glynis Peters, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association's (CAHA) head of female hockey, "the Japanese would have to finance an entirely new sports operation to bring their team up to Olympic standards in six years, which they were also really reluctant to do." In November 1992, the NWOOC and IOC Coordination Committee reached an agreement to include a women's ice hockey tournament in the programme. Part of the agreement was that the tournament would be limited to six teams, and no additional facilities would be built. The CAHA also agreed to help build and train the Japanese team so that it could be more competitive. The IOC had agreed that if the NWOOC had not approved the event, it would be held at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The format of the first tournament was similar to the men's: preliminary round-robin games followed by a medal round playoff.
In 1991, fast-pitch softball was selected to debut as a medal event for women-only at the 1996 Summer Olympics The 1996 Olympics also marked a key era in the introduction of technology in softball; the IOC funded a landmark biomechanical study on pitching during the games. The 117th meeting of the International Olympic Committee, held in Singapore in July 2005, voted to drop softball and baseball for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Attempts to get softball readded to the Olympic program for the 2016 games failed when the International Olympic Committee executive board instead selected golf and rugby sevens. The United States have won three of the four Olympic tournaments.
Women's weightlifting made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Games in Sydney, with the following weight classes:
- 48 kg
- 53 kg
- 58 kg
- 63 kg
- 69 kg
- 75 kg
- +75 kg
Around the world
Fanny Durack was Australia's first female gold medalist. She earned this medal at the 1912 Summer Olympics, where she represented a combined team of Australia and New Zealand, known as the Australasian team.
Participation costs for Australian athletes, costs like travel to and lodging at, early Olympic games were expected to be paid by the local sport federation sponsoring the athlete.
In early Australian swimming history as it pertains to the Olympics, there was an attempt to prevent women from participating by male Australian swimming administrators.
||This section may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (July 2012)|
Throughout the history of the Olympics, sports popular exclusively with women or that have been very popular with women have been excluded. The situation extends beyond the popular women's sport of netball to women's cycling, which was excluded for many years despite having world championships for women being organised by 1958. It extends to field hockey, a sport included for men as early as 1908 but not competed by women until 1980. Lawn bowls is a popular women's sport that has been included in the Commonwealth Games for many years but has not made the Olympic program. While primarily a sport for women, netball allows for mixed gendered teams, but the Olympics do not allow mixed gendered team sports.[note 1]
The issues facing netball are part of a larger problem involving female participation in the Olympics. At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, there were 159 sports for men to compete in, but only 86 sports for women, and 12 sports for both men and women. At the 2000 Summer Olympics, there were still sports that women were excluded from participating in, such as boxing, wrestling and baseball; softball was included as a women-only event. The issue of male over-representation in terms of total number of sports and athletes is structural. In the United Kingdom, for example, more male athletes than female athletes received financial support. Sports officials rationalised this uneven distribution of funding by claiming that there are more opportunities for men to win on the highest level than there are comparable opportunities for women. The importance of netball being included as a competition sport in the Summer Olympics has been compared to softball, and the benefits that the sport derived from Olympic inclusion. This included additional media attention and television coverage, especially during Olympic years. Olympic recognition plays an important part in getting sponsorship for local competitions around the world. It also plays an important role in providing recognition to and opportunities for females that may not be available otherwise.
The selection of women's teams sport in the Olympics may not match with interest levels in a country. In Australia for example, 245,300 total women and girls play basketball, hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball. This compares to 319,500 women and girls who play netball.
The lack of Olympic recognition hampered the globalisation of the game in developing countries, because the Olympic Solidarity Movement provides access to funding for these nations through the International Olympic Committee. In some countries such as Tanzania, the lack of access to Olympic funding cut off other funding options such funding by British Council. With official recognition, funding from the IOC, the Olympic Solidarity Movement and the British Council became available to cover costs for travel to international competitions. For some nations, without that assistance, trying to maintain international calibre teams was difficult. Olympic recognition brought money for development into the sport. In 2004, IFNA received a grant of US$10,000 from the IOC for development. IFNA was given an additional US$3,300 a year until 2007 by the Association of IOC Recognised International Sports (ARISF).
Beyond access to funds from the International Olympic Committee, Olympic recognition is often a requirement for getting funding from state and national sporting bodies, and state and federal governments. This has been the case in Australia, and British Columbia, Canada. In 1985, the Australian Sports Commission and the Office of the Status of Women identified five criteria for obtaining federal funding. One of these was: "status as an Olympic sport and its size by registrations."[note 2] In British Columbia, one of the guidelines says that in order to receive funding, "The sport must be on the program for either the 2011 or 2013 Canada Games and/or the next scheduled recognized International Multi-Sport Games (Olympics/Paralympics, Pan American or Commonwealth Games, Special Olympic World Games);"
- While team mixed gendered sports are not competed at the Olympics, some mixed gendered events are included. They include equestrian sports, shooting and sailing where men and women compete against each other. In shooting and sailing, women were originally only allowed to competed in mixed gendered events. Single gender events for these sports were not added until a later date.
- Netball qualified for funding because it met the other criteria. From 1980 to 1984, the sport received A$497,000 in funding.
- Howell & Howell 1988, p. 26
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- McQuaid, Pat (February 2012), "The equal opportunities: How to make it happen", 5th World Conference on Women and Sport
- The Canadian Press 2008
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- The New York Times 1992
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- sports-reference.com 2006
- International Softball Federation
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- International Softball Federation 2006
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