Sexist Olympics?

News & Views Sports - July 17th, 2012

Win the World Cup the year before the Olympic Games, to which you go as one of the favourites for a gold medal, and you’d expect to travel to London in style.

Japan’s women’s football team, captained by Homare Sawa, who we interviewed in June, is now in Europe.  But, on the flight, with her fellow Nadeshiko Japan heroes, she will have turned right when boarding the plane, and headed for the relative normality of Premium Economy.

So, was Business Class full? Well, yes. Full of young Japanese footballers, in fact. The men’s U23 side, who represent an outside hope for a medal for Japan, were up front living the life of luxury.

AFP reports Sawa as saying, after arriving at a training camp in Paris on Monday, “I guess it should have been the other way around.” She then joked – perhaps experienced enough not to take things too seriously – “Even just in terms of age, we are senior!”

The Japan FA has helped the Japan Olympic Committee with the extra charge for the men’s footballers to travel in style for years; they say it is to reflect their professional status. But Sawa says, “When we won the World Cup, our seats were changed to business class for our return flight, I hope we can produce a good result again and be treated the same way.”

In the spirit of the Games, we would expect all of the athletes to be treated the same. Perhaps, bureaucracy aside, in the interest of chivalry some of the guys would have given up their leather chairs and gone and sat with the women?