Tokyo Olympic golf venue admits first female members in nearly half a century

May 11, 2018   //   by Mathilda   //   golf industry, Latest News  //  No Comments

The golf venue for the Tokyo 2020 Games has granted the first full memberships in nearly four decades to women after lifting a ban under pressure from the International Olympic Committee.

The upscale Kasumigaseki Country Club said it had upgraded three women to full membership status after agreeing last year to admit female members following criticism from the Olympics’ ruling body.

“After the change of the rules, we asked members, including men, if they want to have full membership, and three women wanted to change their status to full membership,” club general manager Hiroshi Imaizumi said.

The board of the club — where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played with U.S. President Donald Trump in November — this week approved the requests after receiving no complaints or opposition from other members, he said.

Until last year, the private club in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, allowed females on its roster but they could not become full members and could not play on certain Sundays — restrictions that did not apply to male members.

The club has around 200 female associate members who are either relatives of full-fledged male members or “weekday members” who are barred from playing on Sundays.

After being selected as a host venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the club came under pressure to change its discriminatory practices, with IOC chief Thomas Bach threatening to hold the golf competition elsewhere if the rules were not changed.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike also complained about the ban, saying she felt “extreme discomfort” at the fact women were denied full membership privileges.

Imaizumi said the club had two female full members about four decades ago, but that the ban on women was introduced several years later for unknown reasons.

The decision to lift the ban “is the trend of the time,” he said.

It came after Scotland’s prestigious Muirfield golf club last year voted to allow women members, ditching a ban that had been in place for 273 years.