If Tokyo golf club wants to host 2020 Olympics, it must allow women to become members

An interesting wrinkle has risen up in regards to golf at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Olympics golf RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 20: (L-R) Silver medalist, Lydia Ko of New Zealand, gold medalist, Inbee Park of Korea and bronze medalist Shanshan Feng of China pose by the olympic rings after Women’s Golf on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Golf Course on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The 2020 Summer Olympics will take place in Tokyo, Japan and will be the second straight summer games with golf. The only issue is where the golf events will be played.

When golf was played at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it marked the first time golf was played at the Olympics since 1904. It’s a big occasion for golf to be back in the Olympic program for the 2020 Games.

However, there is an issue brewing around where golf will be played at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The club scheduled to host the 2020 golf tournament, the Kasumigaseki Country Club, currently has a policy excluding women from becoming full members.

IOC Vice President John Coates said Thursday if the club doesn’t change its policy, the tournament must be played elsewhere.

“At some point there has to be a cut off,” Coates said. “Image wise, our position is clear. We will only go to a club that has nondiscrimination.”

According to the Associated Press, Coates is in Tokyo right now for 2020 meetings and said “progress has been made on the issue.”

Last month, Kasumigaseki Country Club board members met to talk about the issue and their policy, but they haven’t yet agreed to a change. The debate began in January when Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike pressured the club to allow women to be full members. That’s when the IOC stepped in and threatened to move the golf program to another course.

“It’s possible to go elsewhere but I think this is going to work,” Coates said. “It’s heading in the right direction for them to have a nondiscriminatory membership procedure. It would appear that we would have this result by the end of June.”

The club was founded in 1929 and is considered one of the oldest and best country clubs in Japan. To join the club, a man must be referred by a current member and then pay 8 million yen ($70,800) to become a regular member before paying 4 million yen ($35,400) more to become a full member.

Currently, women can become regular members, but not full members. On top of that, they cannot play on Sundays. The IOC wants that to change, and wants women to be equal to men at the club if it is going to host the 2020 Olympic golf tournament.

While the club may be hesitant to change its policy, there’s no doubt hosting the 2020 Olympic golf tournament would do wonders for its image. The club would be played on by some of the world’s top golfers and would be seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

[Associated Press]

About David Lauterbach

David is a writer for The Comeback. He enjoyed two Men's Basketball Final Four trips for Syracuse before graduating in 2016. If The Office or Game of Thrones is on TV, David will be watching.