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Factbox: Olympic progress for women – Seiko Hashimoto set to replace Yoshiro Mori

ATHLETICS By Reuters | February 17th 2021
Japan's Olympic and Paralympic Games Minister Seiko Hashimoto attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on September 16, 2020. [REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Fie Photo]

Seiko Hashimoto, 56, Japan’s Olympics minister and a competitor in seven Games, looks set to replace Yoshiro Mori as president of the Tokyo organising committee after he resigned amid an outcry over sexist comments about women.

Following are milestones in the battle for equality in and around the Olympics.


When Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the modern Olympic Games in 1896, he dismissed female participation as unaesthetic and improper.


The 1896 Olympics was all-male, with women taking part in only a handful of sports over the next few editions. Only in 1928 were women allowed to compete in athletics, and then in five events.

However, several finishers including German winner Lina Radke-Batschauer collapsed after the 800 metres.


Women were not allowed to run more than half a lap of the track until 1960, and despite the huge advances in the fight for equality in the 1960s and 70s, progress in athletics and across the Olympic movement was slow.

Japan's Olympic and Paralympic Games Minister Seiko Hashimoto is surrounded by media as she leaves a parliamentary session in Tokyo, Japan February 17, 2021. [Kyodo/via REUTERS]


Women were not allowed to race the marathon until 1984 at a Los Angeles Games still featuring only 23% female participation across all sports.

Women made up 45% of athletes at the 2016 Rio Games and are expected to reach almost 49% at Tokyo this year. Women’s representation was 41% at the 2018 Winter Olympics.


The International Olympic Committee has sought to bring in more women.

The first two female IOC members were appointed in 1981, and women now represent 37.5% of the membership. The first woman on the IOC’s executive board came in 1990. There are now five women on the 15-person board, including the vice president, American former Olympic rower Anita De Frantz.

Women chair 11 of the 30 IOC commissions and make up 47.8% of commission members, while the IOC Athletes’ Commission in Tokyo consists of 11 women and six men and is chaired by Zimbabwe’s former Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry.

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