Japanese Olympics golf course bows to pressure on female membership

Cheryl Sanders
March 20, 2017

The famed Augusta National Country Club, which hosts the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia, every April, admitted former Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice and prominent private investor Darla Moore as its first female members in 2012.

The club, which opened in 1929, allowed women to play on the club's property and have lower forms of membership short of a full vesting.

The decision was made at an extraordinary meeting of Kasumigaseki Country Club's executive board held in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, following calls by the International Olympic Committee to ensure nondiscriminatory regulations.

In the span of a week, two golf clubs that will host big events in the next several years changed their policies on allowing women members.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf venue has voted to admit women as full members.

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee also wrote to the club's Board of Directors, urging them to make changes as it does not sit in line with the Olympic Charter.

In an interview last month with Around the Rings, IOC vice president and chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020 John Coates noted "there are lots of other golf courses in Japan".

"We are pleased to learn that the Kasumigaseki Country Club voted to amend the club's membership policy in keeping with the spirit of the Olympic Charter", Mori said via a statement. The vote came three days after IOC President Thomas Bach warned the club of consequences for upholding a ban on female members.

The president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Yoshirō Mori, praised the club's board of directors, which is exclusively made up of 15 male members, for voting to uphold the spirit of the Olympic charter of non-discrimination.

The change means organisers won't have to find a different golf venue.

This was (obviously) the right move for the club which will now get to retain men's and women's golf in 2020 when it should be even more successful than it was in 2016.

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