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COMMENT: IOC Statement on Gender Equality in the Olympic Movement

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

equitysport welcomes this weeks statement from the IOC following the bitterly disappointing and misogynistic comments made by Tokyo 2020 President Mori.

** Update: Tokyo 2020 President Mori is set to resign from his position on Friday 12th February **

Following the initial determined attempt to sweep the issue under the carpet, we are pleased that the IOC have now made a cursory attempt at addressing the real concerns of thousands of Olympic supporters, participants and casual observers the world over.

We are disappointed, however, that the IOC have seen fit to use this opportunity not to highlight the challenges ahead in realising gender equality beyond the tokenistic, but instead to celebrate their past commitments, the achievements of others and indeed the modest progress the IOC has made in achieving gender parity in its own ranks.

This was an opportune moment for the IOC to demonstrate leadership and above all else, humility. To show that it is an institution in touch with the realities facing women within the movement and the world in 2021. This was the moment for the IOC to shine a light on gender inequality in the Olympic Movement, discrimination in Japan, host to their flagship event and inequalities in global society more widely. This was the time for the IOC to stand tall on its platform and acknowledge just how far we have to go.

By doing so, the IOC had the chance to reaffirm its status as an ally to the enlightened principles of substance that is espouses as its core values; not just an institution enslaved to slogan, but all too happy to turn its head when the going gets tough.

Instead, the IOC have looked to ignore, distract and defend its way out of what it genuinely seems to think of as nothing more than a PR crisis. It continues to outsource the responsibility of potentially contentious issues within the movement to the National Olympic Committees, the IOC Refugee Team, the United Nations and the IOC Athlete’s Commission. This careful distancing, designed to insulate sponsors from anything but the aspirational, idealistic and wholly positive side to the Olympics is not so much clever commercial wisdom as a dereliction of duty.

It seems the IOC is almost completely paralysed by the fear that by acknowledging reality, by standing up to misogyny and other social ills, they will somehow undermine the movement itself.

At equitysport, we believe quite the opposite is true - an IOC willing to roll up its sleeves, speak bold truths, take decisive action and get its hands dirty in support of the Olympic values is an IOC that can not only consolidate its relevancy in an ever-changing and more socially-aware world, but also realise the lofty aspirations enshrined in the Olympic Charter. We implore the IOC to do just that.

Tim Harper, Founder and Chief Executive at equitysport added:

“It was important for the IOC to address this issue in a far more satisfactory manner than their initial attempts last week.

We, at equitysport, remain concerned that time and time again when opportunities arise for the IOC to showcase the diplomatic strength of the Olympic movement as a vehicle for engagement and progress, the organisation falls back on misguided PR exercises designed to distract and insulate itself from criticism.

With choppy waters to navigate on the horizon for the Olympic Games and by association, for the IOC itself, the time is now for the IOC to refresh their approach to managing contentious issues as and when they arise. It’s jarring for believers in Olympism to see the IOC so totally committed to showcasing the appearance of equality, diversity and inclusion within the movement, rather than the substance.

Engagement and appeasement are important features of the Olympic Movement and key components of how the IOC can exercise effective diplomacy and progress in ways that other institutions can’t - but conciliatory engagement must never be confused with cosy enablement.”


equitysport is a UK-registered charity (1189559) that exists to advance equality, diversity and equal opportunity in and through global sport. Through free-form development, education programmes and targeted advocacy the charity seeks an inclusive and equitable sporting ecosystem that lives up to the true values of sport.

Notes to Editors

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