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Impact of Gender Equity on Tokyo 2020

Published on February 13th, 2018

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pressured World Sailing after the Rio 2016 Olympics to revise the Sailing events to have equal medals for men and women for Tokyo 2020, this translated to an overhaul of the events.

With six events for men, four events for women, and a directive for a more diverse, dynamic program, the degree of disruption was significant. But change does not come easily when the cost to compete is so high, and it was agreed how the timeline to make significant revisions would put undue pressure on nations and athletes.

A compromise was needed.

The IOC agreed the same 10 events could continue for 2020, but World Sailing would make steps toward their demands. In 2020, there would be equal participation among men and women, and in 2024 there would be equal medals among men and women.

This compromise was not without consequence, as the IOC reduced the total participation quota from 380 athletes at Rio 2016 to 350 athletes at Tokyo 2020. While the sailing program would still have 10 events and 30 medals to win, there would be fewer people competing for them.

To achieve the gender balance for Tokyo, some hard cuts were needed. With the men having an extra event, and when factoring in the reduction of athletes, the move from Rio to Tokyo will decrease the total men by 42 while increasing the women by 12 athletes.

What is less clear is how the reduction of athletes will impact the ability for less competitive nations to qualify and experience the Olympic Games.

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