Sun, Jun 11, 2017 - Page 11 News List

IOC adds mixed relays to athletics and swimming to promote gender equality

Reuters, LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Mixed relays in athletics and swimming and three-on-three basketball were among new events approved on Friday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The committee’s executive board also agreed to add mixed doubles in table tennis, mixed team events in judo, shooting and archery and a mixed team triathlon.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the new disciplines would make the games “more youthful, more urban and will include more women.”

Tokyo is to include a 4x400m mixed relay in athletics and a 4x100m medley mixed relay in swimming, the committee said in a statement, adding that swimming would also include a men’s 800m and women’s 1,500m freestyle race.

The numbers of athletes in some sports would be cut, with athletics (105 fewer athletes), weightlifting (64) and wrestling (56) the main casualties, the committee said, but added that basketball would have 64 extra participants.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it was delighted at the inclusion of mixed relays, but disappointed in the reduction in its athletes quota.

The IAAF said mixed relays had been “hugely successful and appealing for athletes and spectators alike.”

“Pitching teams of two men and two women together with the added dimension of team tactics, make this a vibrant, youthful and exciting competition,” the IAAF said, but added: “Whilst we understand the need to be firm on numbers and applaud the IOC’s stance on gender equality in all sports, reducing the quota will inevitably have an impact on our joint goals of universality.”

Three-on-three basketball, an urban sport where the teams aim for the same hoop, was introduced at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing, China, in 2014.

The IOC said that men’s and women’s madison would be added to track cycling and Freestyle Park to BMX cycling, adding that boxing, canoeing and rowing had agreed to reduce the number of men’s events in exchange for more women’s events.

There would be a net increase of 15 events, an overall reduction of 285 athletes compared to last year’s Rio Games and “the highest representation of female athletes in Olympic history,” it said.

The decision is a significant step toward having equal numbers of male and female athletes and events at the Games, the IOC said.

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