The two weeks of Olympic coverage are a rare time when women’s sport and female athletes can make the headlines as much as their male counterparts. Increasing the number of women’s events in prime time across key territories can make a real difference in raising the visibility and prominence of women’s sport.
Tokyo 2020: another step forward to showcase women athletes equally on the world stage
Under the leadership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and with the support of all stakeholders involved, a number of deliberate actions have been taken to ensure that women Olympians get more opportunities to compete during prominent Games-time broadcast slots in Tokyo.
Tokyo 2020 will feature 18 mixed events compared to 8 at London 2012; will balance the medal events for women and men on the middle and final weekends; and will see a number of International Federations (IFs) move to gender-balanced events for the first time.
The middle and final weekends, and in particular the last Sunday (Day 16) of the Olympic Games, are prime global broadcasting moments. Emphasis has therefore been placed first and foremost on these prominent occasions to make the most significant improvements. In comparison to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the last Sunday of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will include a balanced number of medal events and total competition hours.
|Day 16 –Total Competition Hours Comparison||Women||Men|
|Rio de Janeiro||2 hours||25 hours|
|Tokyo||17 hours||13 hours|
|Day 16 –Total Medals Comparison||Women||Men|
|Rio de Janeiro||2||10|
Rescheduling has also helped balance the medal events for women and men on the middle and final weekends (covering Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
|Final Weekend* – Total MedalsComparison||Women||Men|
|Rio de Janeiro||28||34|
|Middle Weekend* – Total MedalsComparison||Women||Men|
|Rio de Janeiro||26||33|
A complex exercise
Developing a competition schedule for the Olympic Games is a five-year process involving multiple stakeholders, from the IOC, IFs and Organising Committees to Rights-Holding Broadcasters and Olympic Broadcasting Services.
The IOC oversees the schedule development, coordinating the various sports requirements with the stakeholder requests and, as head of the Olympic Movement, manages the evolution of the schedules from one Games edition to the next. The IOC’s role was pivotal when, in 2017, gender balance was added to the existing decision-making criteria for the competition schedule development.
The IOC leading the way
In 2017, the IOC commissioned an expert to analyse the competition schedules of Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 and identify opportunities to equalise the number of hours of competition and the number of medal events for each day of the Olympic Games. One key take-away was, for example, that on the final day of the Olympic Games at Rio 2016 there were 27 hours of competition for the men but just two hours for the women.
Competition schedules – starting at PyeongChang 2018 – now incorporate gender balance. The aim is to have an equal number of medal finals per day, as these events often gain coverage in print and broadcast media and online. Major improvements to the total hours of competition per day (shown above) have also given women’s events equal prominence, which is reflected in TV broadcasts and online streaming.