IOC gets tough with Tokyo 2020 golf venue
02 Mar 2017 - 22:40
Tokyo: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday issued a sharp warning to the private club set to host golf at the 2020 Tokyo Games: admit women or you're out.
On a visit to Tokyo to check on the city's Olympic preparations, IOC Vice-President John Coates said the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama prefecture was running out of time to change its policy of refusing to grant full membership to women.
"Our principles are based on non-discrimination, that's the position we've made quite clear," Coates, chairman of the coordination commission which oversees preparations for the Olympics, told reporters.
"There has been progress – as recently as this week there have been more discussions with the club (to suggest) it's heading in the right direction for them to have a non-discriminatory membership procedure," he added, flagging the end of June as a possible time frame to resolve the awkward standoff.
Earlier this month, the club's chairman told local media he was "flummoxed" by the row, prompting further criticism of its policies.
Coates insisted, however, that if the current impasse dragged on beyond June, the IOC would be forced to look for alternative venues.
"At some point there has to be a cut-off," said the Australian, adding that there was still plenty of time to find another golf club.
"We've got to be very careful because we are going there by their grace. I respect that it's a private club but our position is clear. We will only go to a club that has non-discrimination."
Coates also sought to allay fears over the Games budget, which experts warn could reach an eye-watering $25b, by pointing to "considerable savings" made by moving some of the venues outside of Tokyo. In its bid, Tokyo estimated the bill for the Games at a little over $7m and promised 85 percent of venues would be within eight kilometres (five miles) of the Olympic village, plans long since torn up due to soaring costs.
"As a result of looking at existing venues outside of Tokyo, we have saved $2.2bn," said Coates, referring to sports such as cycling, basketball and sailing, which be hosted by cities outside of the capital."