TOKYO: A Japanese country club set to host the 2020 Olympics golf competition said on Wednesday it would consider changing a policy not to admit women as full members after Tokyo’s female governor slammed the rule.
Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, north of Tokyo, came under fire last week as Yuriko Koike said she felt “very uncomfortable that women cannot become full members in the 21st century”.
“It should be a venue open to everyone,” the capital’s top official told reporters on Friday.
This week, Britain’s Telegraph newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that the International Olympic Committee had serious concerns, and was in contact with the International Golf Federation (IGF) over the issue.
On Wednesday, the club’s general manager, Hiroshi Imaizumi, said there would be a discussion about changing the longstanding policy if either international body requested it.
“I think we should keep up with the times,” Imaizumi told AFP.
The club has 220 women on its roster but they are not allowed to become full members and they cannot play on certain Sundays — restrictions that do not apply to male members.
“We haven’t received any complaints from female members about the rules so we were surprised” by Koike’s criticism, he added.
Golf’s international body had already visited the club before it was chosen as the 2020 venue but Imaizumi said he was unsure if it was familiar with the policy.
Last year, historic Scottish golf course Muirfield lost its status as a British Open venue after voting not to admit female members.
Tokyo Olympics organising committee head Yoshiro Mori expressed concerns about the Tokyo-area club, saying players would have a two to three hour daily commute from the athletes’ village, Japanese media reported.
Summertime temperatures in the area, which can soar as high as 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees fahrenheit), have also been cited as a potential problem.
Plans for the Tokyo Games have been marred by problems, including a plagiarism scandal and huge cost overruns.