By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) – Problems surrounding the venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics golf events, which does not allow full membership for women, stem from documents prepared for the original bid, a Japanese media report said on Wednesday.
Calls have arisen to move the tournament away from the private Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama prefecture because of a policy that forbids women from playing on Sundays and excludes them from becoming a full members.
A board meeting last week postponed a decision on the issue, which its head called “a nuisance”.
After the venue was selected to host the tournament in 2012, it received approval from the International Golf Federation (IGF) but the club’s policy was not included in explanatory material at that time, NHK public television said.
Despite earning selection, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s bid committee warned the club that its policy could create problems for violating the Olympic charter’s rules on equality.
Quoting information given to the government in 2012, NHK added that the bid committee member was told by the club that it would “fix things” and thinking the issue was resolved, opted not to mention the policy in documents prepared in English.
A Kasumigaseki Country Club official confirmed to NHK that the club had been warned but said it had replied: “If this becomes a problem, we will have a mutual discussion at that time. We did not say we would fix things.”
The International Golf Federation was quoted by NHK as saying they did not know until recently that the club did not admit women as full members.
Nobody was available at the club for comment on Wednesday and Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Hikariko Ono said the Organizing Committee was not aware of any communications between the Bid Committee and other parties during the bidding process.
“If the media reports are correct, we believe the Tokyo Metropolitan Government should explain clearly to Kasumigaseki Country Club what actually transpired at the time,” Ono added in an email response to written questions.
“Kasumigaseki Country Club is aware of the IOC’s request to change its membership policy and is holding internal discussions. The Organizing Committee will continue to monitor developments carefully.”
(Story refiled to fix grammar in headline)
(Editing by John O’Brien)