/ 8 July 2011

Send in your women, says Olympic committee

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) hopes that the three countries that have never sent female athletes to the Olympics will have women on their teams at next year’s London Games.

Anita DeFrantz, head of the IOC’s women and sport commission, named Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the countries without women athletes in her report to the International Olympic Committee general assembly.

“It’s down to just those three,” said DeFrantz, the senior IOC member from the United States. “We hope that those three will, likewise, have women at 2012.”

The three countries are the only ones among the IOC’s 205 member states still without women athletes at the games.

DeFrantz also named 10 international sports federations — including Sepp Blatter’s world football body Fifa — that have no women on their top executive boards.

The federations for boxing, weightlifting, canoeing and kayaking, handball, archery, shooting, rugby, cycling and bobsled also lack women on their decision-making bodies.

“It’s disturbing that we have fewer women than ever serving on executive boards of sports,” DeFrantz said.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said he agreed with the commission’s “name and shame” strategy, but added: “In spite of the shortcomings in the Olympic world, I do believe we are making progress.”

DeFrantz has previously suggested that countries should be excluded from the Olympics unless they end their male-only policy.

Qatar sent a male-only team to the 2008 Beijing Games and Brunei also didn’t have a woman on its team.

Several countries that formerly excluded women — Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, for example — sent female athletes to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

International Boxing Federation president Ching-Kuo Wu, an IOC member from Taiwan, said it’s a gradual process to include women at the top level.

“We are trying to promote women’s leadership in the sport,” Wu said. “To build up leadership it takes time and a lot of effort. I take the opportunity just to explain. We continue to build up our women leadership.”

Boxing, previously a male-only Olympic sport, has added women’s boxing to the program for London. — Sapa-AP