A Japanese nonprofit organisation is calling for the 2020 Olympic golf tournament in Tokyo to be shifted from the Kasumigaseki Country Club because the club does not accept women as full members.
The Japan Golf Council, unaffiliated to the sport's domestic governing body, the Japan Golf Association, said on Tuesday that it had sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach proposing an alternative venue.
The membership policy "is quite contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Games," said Eiko Ohya, chairwoman of the council.
The Kasumigaseki, an exclusive Country Club in neighbouring Saitama prefecture, allows women to play from Monday to Saturday but bars them from becoming full members and playing on Sundays.
The council has yet to receive any response from the IOC, but after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike recently criticised the policy, it feels it is making headway.
The council wants the venue to be moved to Wakasu Golf Links, a public course on Tokyo Bay located much closer to the Olympic Village.
Besides the membership issue, the council is insisting that Wakasu would be more cost-effective due to its proximity to central Tokyo and will have greater legacy value for the people of Japan because it is a public course and open to all.
In a statement, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee noted that Kasumigaseki had hosted various national competitions, including the 1999 Japan Women's Open, and that it fully met the requirements for hosting Olympic-level golf competitions.
But the committee added that it "would continue studying the club owner's policy on membership and its responses to the on-going public discussion."
Hiroshi Imaizumi, the general manager of the Kasumigaseki Country Club, told Reuters that the club had about 215 female Monday-to-Saturday members and that while it was not considering changing its membership system at the present time, it would have a re-think about it if it is contacted by the IOC.
Several leading golf clubs around the World have changed their membership policies in recent years and now accept females as full members.
Two of these are the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews which in 2014 decided to allow women to join after being excluded for 260 years, and the Augusta National Golf club, the founder and present home of The Masters, the first major of the year, who did away with its men-only membership policy in 2012.
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