IOC chief suggests switch in 2020 golf venue if men-only rule stands

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach suggested Friday that the golf venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics may have to be changed if the scheduled golf club fails to offer full membership to women.

"The (IOC) executive board...made it very clear again that the Olympic Games are about nondiscrimination in every respect," Bach told a news conference after a two-day board meeting in Pyeongchang, host of next February's Winter Olympics.

"Therefore we were pleased to hear that the executive board of this golf club is meeting within the next couple of days even to discuss this issue and to hopefully then grant the same rights to women as for men so that we can have gender equality," he said.

Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo -- currently set to host the men's and women's golf competitions at the 2020 Olympics -- has come under fire for its policy of not allowing women to become full members or to play on Sundays.

Bach said the IOC would approve the venue if the club decides to change its discriminatory rule.

But he added, "If this decision should be taken in another way, should gender equality not be respected, then we would look for another venue which would ensure nondiscrimination."

Unanimous approval by the golf club's 15-man board is necessary to change its policy. The body has met earlier to discuss the matter but has yet to come to a conclusion.

In January, Yuriko Koike, Tokyo's first female governor, raised the issue, expressing her disappointment in the club's reluctance to modify its single-sex membership policy, a form of gender-based discrimination that violates the Olympic Charter rules on equality.

==Kyodo

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