By Peter Rutherford
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Olympic chief Thomas Bach hopes the golf club hosting the men’s and women’s tournaments at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will change its policy and allow equal rights to women but underlined the IOC’s stance it would seek another venue if it failed to do so.
Kasumigaseki Country Club has come under fire for its policy of barring women from playing on Sundays and obtaining full membership.
Bach said in a news conference in Pyeongchang after the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board meeting on Friday that it was imperative the Olympic ideals of equality and respect were honored by the venue.
“The Executive Board made it very clear again that the Olympic Games are about non discrimination in every respect,” he said.
“Therefore we were pleased to hear the executive board of the golf club is meeting within the next couple of days to discuss this issue and to hopefully then grant the same rights to women as for men so we can have gender equality and then could approve this venue.
“If this decision should be taken in another way, should gender equality not be respected, we would look for another venue which would ensure non discrimination,” he added.
The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee sent a letter to the club last month calling on it to reconsider the policy.
Several notable country clubs have changed their policies to allow female members in recent years.
In 2014, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews decided to allow women to join after 260 years of exclusion, and Augusta National, home of the U.S. Masters, ended its men-only membership in 2012.
On Tuesday, Muirfield golf club voted to admit women members, scrapping the all-male policy that led to the historic Scottish links course being stripped of its eligibility to host Britain’s Open championship.
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)