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The London 2012 Olympics: A gender equality audit

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The London 2012 Olympics: A gender equality audit

In this report from the Centre for Sport Policy Studies at the University of Toronto, Peter Donnelly and Michele K. Donnelly have analysed gender equality in sport using the case of the 2012 London Olympics.

Achievements of London 2012 Olympics

At the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics, IOC president Jacques Rogge said that the 2012 Games signified “a major boost for gender equality.” Three milestones were achieved in London: (a) the Games had a higher percentage of women athletes than any previous Summer Olympics; (b) there were women competitors in every sport; and (c) there were no longer any countries preventing women from participating in the Olympics.

A gender equality audit
In a new report from the University of Toronto, Peter Donnelly and Michele Donnelly have analysed gender equality in sport using the case of the 2012 London Olympics. 
The gender audit compared the 26 sports and 36 disciplines that made up the 302 events at the London Olympics in order to identify the differences that exist between men and women’s Summer Olympic sports and to debate whether these differences can be considered acceptable and legitimate. 

They argue that they see a tendency among major women’s sports organisations to shift focus from increasing women’s representation in sport to increasing women’s representation in sports leadership. 
However, the authors of the report argue that there are still major gender inequalities on the level of the athletes and the report has therefore investigated the gender-based structural and rule differences that still exist on the Olympic programme.

Major gender inequalities
Four key additional and overlapping areas of inequality are still evident: (a) differences in funding and sponsorship between male and female athletes/teams; (b) differences in publicity and media representation for male and female athletes/sports; (c) the re-emergence of sex testing for female athletes; and (d) the specific focus of this report, gender-based structural and rule differences that still exist in sports at large, and on the Olympic programme.

Key recommendation
The report concludes with the recommendation that a similar amount of events and medal opportunities should be created for men and women in order to achieve greater gender equality, and the authors call on the IOC to realise this gender equality by the earliest opportunity.

The authors see this report as a way to start the discussion of why gender differences were introduced in sports in the first place, what differences remain, how those differences compare across sports, why they remain, and how they may be resolved. In addition, they argue that it is crucial for athletes and former athletes to be involved in these discussions – they are the only experts who really matter.


[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]

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Stine Alvad

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Sunday, April 7, 2013 - 23:00