The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics are cited as contributing to raising awareness of the objectification of female athletes and driving an increase in incidents reported to the JOC in recent months ©Getty Images

A Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) initiative aimed at preventing female athletes from being photographed in a sexualised manner when competing in their events has seen around 2,500 non-consensual objectifying images submitted in complaint.

The service was launched last November, with female athletes able to report sexualised images from competing in their events to a designated website set up by the JOC.

As reported by Kyodo News, the latest statistics represent a major increase in recent months, almost doubling from the 1,300 images reported by early July.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and high-profile arrests of men for sharing photographs and videos of female athletes on sexual and pornographic platforms online without their consent are cited as increasing awareness of the objectification of female athletes.

The JOC created the initiative in response to complaints from several athletes at discovering photographs of themselves on social media with sexually explicit captions.

Last July also saw the release of the Human Rights Watch report "I Was Hit So Many Times I Can't Count: Abuse of Child Athletes in Japan," detailing the physical, sexual and verbal abuse of child athletes in Japan from coaches.

The JOC launched the scheme targeted against voyeurism in collaboration with several other organisations, including the Japan Sports Association, the Japan Sports Association for Persons with Disabilities and the Japan Sport Council.

Female German gymnasts wore full-body suits at Tokyo 2020 to take a stand against sexualisation in the sport ©Getty Images
Female German gymnasts wore full-body suits at Tokyo 2020 to take a stand against sexualisation in the sport ©Getty Images

Athletes, fans and others involved with Japanese sport are encouraged to report any incidents of suspected voyeurism at a venue to tournament organisers, and to report any incidents online of photographs being used for sexual purposes through an online form on the JOC website.

Kyodo News reported that a 37-year-old man was arrested in May based on information collected by the JOC for posting images of several female athletes without permission on his porn website.

A month later, a 57-year-old man was arrested after posting a video secretly filmed of a female athlete in a sexualised context on an online pornographic platform.

It is claimed that around half of the material in cases pursued has been deleted.

There has been an increased emphasis on tackling sexual harassment in sport, following a series of scandals and social media movements including #MeToo.

Last month, the International Federation of Sport Climbing was forced to issue a second apology of the season to Austrian climber Johanna Färber, following complaints from viewers that broadcasters of the World Championships in Moscow showed a close-up of chalk handprints on Färber’s backside.

At Tokyo 2020, Germany's women's gymnastics team wore full-body suits, a move its gymnasts had also taken in April's European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, which the German Gymnastics Federation said was taking a stand against "sexualisation in gymnastics."

There was also outrage in July when the Norwegian Handball Federation was fined €1,500 (£1,300/$1,700) by the European Handball Federation after its players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms at a Women’s European Beach Handball Championship match against Spain.