Olympic golf course votes to amend membership policy

While women couldn't become full members, which would allow them to golf on Sundays, they could become junior members, a status that gave them some access to the club's courses.

The vote came amid threats from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that another venue would be chosen if they didn't change their policy on gender.

The executive board of Tokyo's Kasumigaseki Country Club voted Monday to amend its membership policy to fully include women after organizers for the 2020 Olympics threatened to strip the club of its right to host the 2020 Olympic golf tournament.

The president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Yoshirō Mori, praised the club's board of directors, which is exclusively made up of 15 male members, for voting to uphold the spirit of the Olympic charter of non-discrimination.

It led to calls for the venue in Saitama prefecture to be switched to an alternative location such as the Wakasu Golf Links.

Mori also praised the "short period of time" in which the agreement had been reached, but not before the public outcry.

"I truly appreciate the numerous efforts that the club's senior leaderships and all the club members have made so far to meet the requirements for hosting Olympic competitions".

Other critics said the club's policy was contrary to the spirit of the Olympics.

Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Lydia Ko of New Zealand had been among the top names to speak out against the rules at the Tokyo 2020 golf course. After a bit of urging from the International Olympic Committee, they flipped the script.

Several notable golf clubs have changed their policies to allow female members in recent years.

Yuriko Koike, Tokyo's first female governor, had stressed she felt "very uncomfortable" women could not become members "in this day and age", adding it should be "a venue open to everyone".

The club's board met February 7 to discuss the matter and then held three meetings with full members to explain the situation and hear their views.

  • Leroy Wright