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Sports groups pushing for more female executives ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Japan Olympic Committee executive member Kaori Yamaguchi (Mainichi)

The Japan Sports Agency, Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and other major domestic sports associations have begun efforts to rigorously promote the appointment of women to executive positions, it has been learned.

The effort began when the related sports organizations signed the international Brighton Plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration on Women and Sport in April 2017. Those involved with the organizations are hopeful that this will pave the way for the promotion of women and "become a legacy for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics."

The 2014 declaration was penned in Helsinki at a conference held by the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG), an organization for gender equality in the sporting world. The document's ultimate goal is to raise the percentage of women in executive positions in sports organizations to 40 percent by 2020. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already made steps toward the proposal, with elected female officers making up 38 percent of executives, including those of the organization's panels, in April 2017.

In comparison, the Sasakawa Sports Foundation conducted a survey from October to November 2016 of 61 sports management groups that make up committees such as the JOC. The results showed that while a total of 1,144 men held positions such as president, vice president or other senior executive positions, there were only 142 women in such positions -- only 11 percent of all executive roles. In addition, there were 11 organizations that didn't have any female executives at all. Many of these groups are set to hold officer elections this month.

"The first task should be electing women in organizations with zero female executives," advised JOC executive member Kaori Yamaguchi, winner of a bronze medal in judo at the 1988 Seoul Games and associate professor at the University of Tsukuba. "We need to encourage female executives by also making revisions to sport organization bylaws and other measures." Yamaguchi suggested allocating female executives depending on the number of players in each sport as one possible way to increase female involvement.

"We are building up great strength in sports that were previously called 'unladylike,'" said Yamaguchi. "If we continue to make progress in traditionally male sports, then women can make progress in other fields as well."

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