Olympians bemoan gender discrimination

2012-07-20 13:20
Sports governing bodies from Japan and Australia are under fire after complaints that male Olympic athletes flew business class to the London Games, while the women sat in the cheap seats.

Japan’s world champion women’s football team took exception to flying economy while their male counterparts sat in business class on a flight to Europe for the Olympics. The Japan Football Association said the men flew in business because they are professionals.

The women’s team was assigned seats in premium economy for the 13-hour flight to Paris while the nation’s under-23 men’s team was up front on the same flight.

“It should have been the other way around,” 2011 Fifa women’s world player of the year Homare Sawa told Japanese media after arriving in the French capital. “Even just in terms of age we are senior.”

Basketball Australia says it will review its travel policy for national teams after complaints that the men flew business class to the Olympics while most of the women sat in premium economy.

The women’s team is by far the most successful of the two, having won silver medals at the last three Olympics.

The men, who will be led in London by San Antonio Spurs point guard Patty Mills, have never won an Olympic medal.

Today, the sport’s national governing body said it would “review our Olympic travel policy with the goal of ensuring there is equity between travel arrangements for the men’s and women’s teams attending future Olympics.”

Today, Basketball Australia acting chief executive Scott Derwin said the “policy around budgets for each national team gives the leadership group of those teams some discretion over how their funds are spent – and that includes travel arrangements. But the simple fact is when a policy results in gender inequality, it’s very clearly not the right policy.”

Former Australian women’s basketball captain Robyn Maher said the Australian women’s team had repeatedly asked Basketball Australia to justify the inequity.

“Over the years a multitude of reasons have been given – the men get better funding, so they’ve been able to do it; the men are bigger so they need more space,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s been a bit of a sore spot, especially since the women are much more successful.”