Getting closer to athlete gender equality at the Olympic Games

On 4 March, ahead of International Women’s Day, the IOC Executive Board approved two new measures designed to promote even greater gender equality among athletes at the Olympic Games.

  • At Tokyo 2020, for the first time, each NOC will have at least one male and one female athlete on their team.
  • Each NOC can also now nominate a male and female athlete to jointly carry the flag during the Opening Ceremony.
  • These two new measures build on the wider commitment from the IOC to reach complete gender parity at the Olympic Games.

Ever since the first 22 women participated in the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, the IOC has made great strides towards achieving greater gender balance during Games-time.

Female athlete on every team in Tokyo

Building on the continuous effort of the IOC to bring a gender balance to the sport programme of the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games (YOG), there will be an expected new record of 48.8% women’s participation at Tokyo 2020. And now, we have reached a stage where a concerted effort can be made to ensure that, for the first time, all 206 NOCs are represented by a minimum one male and female athlete.

The process applied will be similar to the YOG; following the Tokyo 2020 sports entry deadline in June, the IOC will work on a case-by-case basis with the NOCs and International Federations to allocate additional out-of-quota places in individual sports (primarily in athletics and swimming).

Joint flagbearers

In addition, the IOC Executive Board will amend the IOC Protocol guidelines to allow one female athlete and one male athlete of each NOC to carry their country’s flag jointly during the Opening Ceremony athletes’ parade. The NOCs would remain responsible for nominating the male and female flagbearers and will be encouraged to do this.

This opportunity will dramatically amplify the IOC’s message relating to the importance of gender quality and reinforce it directly with each competing NOC. It will also give more opportunities to female athletes, allowing them to benefit from one of the most iconic moments of the Games.

If you have any questions about the new measures, please contact your NOC.