IOC, OCA seminar focuses on challenges in women's sports

MUSCAT (OMAN): The challenges that women athletes confront and possible solutions to them dominated the discussion during a two-day seminar on women's sports and media organised by the International Olympic Committee in collaboration with the Olympic Council of Asia

The Oman Olympic Committee played host as delegates from 45 countries, including India, deliberated on how to increase the participation of women in sports and administrative roles in their respective National Olympic Committees in the April 25-26 seminar. 

Among the presenters at the event were IOC Women and Sports Commission member Beng Choo Low from Malaysia and veteran Australian sports journalist Tracey Lee Holmes, who has covered six Olympics in a career spanning over two decades. 

The issues that dominated the discussion included the disparity in media coverage of women's sports viz-a-viz men's sports, the lack of training facilities for women athletes in participating countries and the issues surrounding the dress code of various sports when it comes to Muslim women in conservative societies. 

"The first thing the women need to do is stop complaining about being discriminated against because there is no point in that. We have to create our space, we should not expect men to create that for us. Don't wait for others to give opportunities, if you believe in something just do it yourself," said Low while addressing the delegates, only two of whom were men. 

"Women should not expect a place for themselves because of their gender, they should get there on the basis of their talent and capabilities. 

"What we can work on is to improve the pool of women coaches so that young girls even in conservative societies are exposed to sports without any restrictions," she said. 

During the seminar, OCA's Women and Sports Committee head Natalya Sipovich gave a status report on the progress made by women in terms of participation in Continental Games and in their respective National Olympic Committees. 

"I hope the NOCs seriously implement our recommendation of having 20 per cent reservation for capable women in administrative roles," she said. 

"We have to keep knocking at the door so that some day the window of opportunity opens up," she added. 

Another issue which was discussed vigorously was the dress code for Muslim women in sports, especially soccer and beach volleyball. 

FIFA's ban on women playing soccer with hijab was also a hot topic of discussion and the Sipovich said designs are now ready to ensure that Muslim women can play the sport with their heads covered without causing any safety concerns. 

"FIFA's hijab ban is because of the safety concerns because the way it is tied, a player might get injured if a rival lunges at her," explained Low. 

On the last day of the seminar, on April 26, the delegates pondered on an action plan to improve women's sports. The suggestions made at the seminar would be sent to the IOC for deliberation and implementation.
Source: The Times of India