The Olympic Games kicked off in Tokyo, Japan on July 23, bringing together world athletes and sports reporters from around the globe. On the occasion of the opening ceremony, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) made a call, signed by GE, to sports federations, media organizations, journalists and unions to eradicate sexism in sport.
“Women journalists are willing to report on sports, but many are subject to discrimination and few have access to leadership roles in this sector” said María Ángeles Samperio, president of the IFJ Gender Council and the GE Secretariat. “The treatment of women sports journalists by the media mirrors that of female athletes by sports federations, and it has to stop. We need inclusive sports reporting, equal treatment for all sports journalists and no more sexism in sports.” .
The preparation for this year’s Olympics already saw the head of the organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, resign in February after making sexist comments about women in the sports administration. The creative director of the opening and closing ceremony, Hiroshi Sasaki, also resigned after making a sexist comment about artist Naomi Watanabe, whom he compared to a pig.
In the run-up to the Olympics, the IFJ wrote to the games’ governing body to express concern about sexism in the world of sport, while calling for the safety and well-being of female competitors and journalists, insisting that the Sporting values must prevail and warning that it is intolerable for women to be subjected to harassment, gender violence, insults and humiliation.
Recent figures from the Global Media Monitoring Project released on July 14 show that only 9% of stories on major news pages and in the newscasts around the world are about sports. Women only represent 15% of news topics in sports stories, while they represent between 1 and 7% of sports journalists according to the media.
The withdrawal of Simone Biles is an example for a society sick of being overly competitive. Biles, speaking openly about the pressure experienced by highly competitive athletes teaches us that there are other ways of experiencing sport. Her statements are a first step towards culminating a feminist transformation in sport that guarantees the fulfillment of human rights to protect citizens and especially athletes.
On the occasion of the opening of the Olympic Games, the FIP and GAMAG EUROPA (GE):
1. Call on sports federations to launch ongoing prevention campaigns to condemn attacks against women journalists;
2. Call on media organizations to hire more women in sports sections of newsrooms, adopt policies to eradicate sexism, such as guidelines to combat harassment, equal pay and equal opportunity policies ;
3. Call on journalists to ensure that their sports reports are inclusive and avoid gender stereotypes;
4. Call on trade unions around the world to contribute to the protection of women journalists in sport
Brussels, July 2021