Golf course issue settled for Tokyo 2020 but now Fukushima venue questioned
Golf at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will take place at the Kasumigaseki Country Club after all, after members of the club today voted to allow women to have full membership.
The International Olympic Committee had threatened to move the competition away from the private Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama prefecture unless it amended a ruling that forbids women from playing on Sundays and excludes them from becoming full members.
The club held three briefings for its members before it decided to fully admit women, which required unanimous approval from the board, made up of 15 members.
Yoshiro Mori, president of Tokyo 2020, said in a statement today: "We are pleased to learn that the Kasumigaseki Country Club voted today at an extraordinary meeting of its executive board to amend the club's membership policy in keeping with the spirit of the Olympic Charter. On behalf of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, I'd like to extend my gratitude to the members of the club for their understanding and cooperation. I also would like to express my admiration for the club's endeavour to come to an agreement in such a short period of time.
"Kasumigaseki Country Club is an outstanding venue with excellent courses, and we are proud it will be hosting world’s top-tier golfers from all over the world for the Olympics Games. I truly appreciate the numerous efforts that the club’s senior leaderships and all the club members have made so far to meet the requirements for hosting Olympic competitions. We will continue to make our very best efforts to prepare for and deliver a successful Tokyo 2020 Games."
Last month, IOC vice-president John Coates, who heads the Tokyo 2020 coordination commission, told Reuters: "We made quite clear that there has to be gender equality. If they can't achieve the gender equality then we have to get another course, but the organisers are very confident that they will... There's plenty of time to move to another golf course if we have to."
Meanwhile, the decision to hold 2020 Olympic baseball and softball matches in Fukushima has been criticised by campaigners as a cynical manoeuvre by the Japanese government to convince the world that the 2011 nuclear crisis is over.
The IOC executive board approved the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium as an extra venue last week.
The 2011 quake and subsequent tsunami, which killed more than 18,000 people, caused the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which is less than 50 miles from Fukushima City.
Mori said last week that "Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster."
However, the Kyoto-based Green Action Japan group has criticised the organising committee's statement for failing to mention ongoing efforts at the Fukushima plant to bring the reactors under control and to decontaminate areas.
Anti-nuclear campaigner Aileen Mioko-Smith told the UK's Telegraph newspaper: "It's fine for athletes and spectators to go to Fukushima for a couple of days to compete, but the Japanese government is using this to claim that everything is back to normal and that the evacuees should go back to their homes.
"It's unconscionable. To tell people that because the games are being held in Fukushima that it is perfectly safe for people to go back to their homes, for farmers to go back into their fields, for children to play in the open air is just wrong."