April 16 - The London 2012 Olympics included 1,233 more male athletes and offered 30 more medal events for men than for women competitors, according to a new report by researchers at University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Toronto's Centre for Sport Policy Studies.
Nearly half of the sports, including racewalking, canoe/kayak, rowing, shooting, boxing and wrestling, at last summer's Games allowed more men the chance to compete with no matching equivalent for female athletes, despite some calling it "The Women's Olympics".
In 11 of 26 sports, international rules more severely limited the number of female competitors who were allowed to compete.
In boxing, as many as 250 male boxers were allowed to compete but the number of female competitors was capped at 36, while in water polo up to 156 men could compete compared to 104 women and judo allowed for up to 221 male competitors and just 145 female competitors.
"The perceptions of equality that led to London being called 'the Women's Olympics' by some commentators are inaccurate," explained Michele Donnelly, a post-doctoral fellow in sociology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
"The focus is almost always on medal counts and success stories, but it's important to point out that the experience of men and women athletes is still substantially different.
"Following the celebration associated with women's involvement in all sports for the first time at the London 2012 Olympics, it is now time for those sports to more equitably represent men and women competitors."
The authors of the report praise the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the progress to date, particularly in the last 15 years, but they argue that the organisation can still do more.
"The IOC is ideally located to be the moral leader in taking these final steps towards gender equality and to persuade the international federations that only gender equal events will be permitted at the Games," said Peter Donnelly, director of the Centre for Sport Policy Studies.
"We have called on the IOC, as the gatekeepers of the Olympics, to make a final commitment to gender equality at the Games in terms of an equal number of events for men and women, and near equivalence in the number of participants."
To read the full report click here.
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