American International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Anita DeFrantz feels more can be done to help women secure high-profile positions within sport, highlighting Rio 2016 as a key tool to inspire more females to get involved.
DeFrantz, who stepped down last year as head of the LA84 Foundation, the non-profit organisation created to manage the profits created by the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is one of a number of women who are playing important roles in the American city’s bid for the 2024 Games.
Four-times Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans is the vice chair and director of Athlete Relations for Los Angeles 2024, while Olympic kayaker Tamara Christopherson was recently appointed associate director of athlete relations.
They are joined by IOC member Angela Ruggiero, also vice-chair of the IOC Athletes Commission, and all are hoping 2016 is a “year for women leaders in sport”.
“Twenty-fifteen was a very successful year for women in sport,” DeFrantz said.
“We have seen many extraordinary achievements on and off the field of play, and that is set to continue in this Olympic and Paralympic year.
“There is also a rise in the number of prominent women administrators in sport but, as Olympic Agenda 2020 highlights, there is still more that can be done in this regard.
“As President of the LA84 Foundation, I worked to ensure that one of the legacies from LA’s Games in 1984 was to ensure greater gender equality in sport throughout the United States and I'm sure that at Rio 2016 we will see the Olympic Movement take a step closer to its goal of achieving 50 per cent participation of women in the Olympic Games.”
Rome 2024 also have a woman in a leading role within the Bid Committee as two-times Olympic fencing champion Diana Bianchedi was chosen as secretary general following the surprise resignation of Claudia Bugno in November.
Three members of the 15-strong IOC Executive Board are currently women - Germany’s Claudia Bokel, DeFrantz and Sweden’s Gunilla Lindberg.
“As a proud member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, I know how important it is for current and retired athletes, and Olympians and Paralympians in particular, to serve as role models to inspire more females to participate and lead in sport,” Ruggiero, a member of the American women's team which won the Olympic ice hockey gold medal in Nagano in 1998, said.
“The Olympic and Paralympic Games have an unrivalled power to help achieve this and so I really look forward to Rio 2016.”
Evans also claimed Los Angeles 2024 are committed to gender equality within their bid, hailing the appointment of Christopherson as a key indication of their commitment towards including women in the Bid Committee.
“LA 2024 is strongly committed to advancing the IOC’s goal of fostering gender equality and strengthening women’s participation in, and through, sport,” said Evans.
“Most recently, I was thrilled to welcome Olympian Tamara Christopherson to the team as LA 2024’s associate director of athlete relations.
“Tamara’s experience and knowledge is emblematic of the huge pool of talented current and retired athletes that train and reside in California and the US.
“We will be looking to harness all of that talent as we build LA 2024's Athletes’ Commission.”