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Now Kasumigaseki bows to pressure


The exclusive Japanese golf club at the centre of a gender equality row, has bowed to pressure and is now set to give women members the same rights and privileges as its men.

The institution in question, the Kasumigaseki Country Club, north-west of Tokyo, was threatened with the loss of its status as the 2020 Olympics venue if it continued to exclude women from the same class of membership as its men.

For example, under it's existing rules, women were prohibited from playing golf on Sundays.

The up-market, private club set in Saitama Prefecture, is reported by The Guardian to have held three separate briefings for its members before it arrived at the decision to grant all of the facilities and privilege available to its men to it's women members as well

The decision required unanimous approval from its board, made up of 15 men.

Olympic officials praised the decision on Monday.

Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, congratulated the club, founded in 1929, for voting to uphold the spirit of the Olympic charter of non-discrimination.

"I' d like to extend my gratitude to the members of the club for their understanding and cooperation," he said in a statement.

Before the decision, critics including the International Olympic Committee, had argued that the club's exclusionary policies contradicted the Olympic charter, which says every individual has the right to practice sport "without discrimination of any kind".

The first female governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, has said she felt "very uncomfortable" that women could not become full members in this "day and age".

The IOC president, Thomas Bach, said last week that the organisers were prepared to find another location "should gender equality not be respected", but in the light of the latest development, this will no longer be necessary.

Kasumigaseki is the second internationally prominent golf club to have faced pressure this year to end outdated discriminatory membership policies.

Scotland's storied Muirfield Golf Course announced last week that it would admit female members for the first time in its 273-year history after being stripped of its right to host the famed Open Championship following an earlier ballot which voted against opening the club to women members.

This turnabout, brought about by some hard canvassing by the club captain and his committee, will result in Muirfield rejoining the Open rota, the R & A have subsequently announced.

Neville Leck

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