Tokyo 2020 under fire from riders for 'gender-unequal' road cycling courses
The women’s cycling road race course unveiled yesterday, alongside the men’s course, by organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is coming under fire for being easier than the men’s and for not allowing for spectacular and competitive racing, in apparent defiance of the IOC’s drive towards gender equality.
Although both races will take place in the region of the iconic Mount Fiji, the women’s race will skip some decisive climbs which are expected to provide exciting racing and viewing.
Eri Yonamine, Japan’s four-time national road and time trial champion, tweeted that she was “just sad, and sorry,” adding: “I guess this course was made by [someone] Japanese [who doesn’t know much] about road races. And also doesn’t care about gender equality. I can understand why it happened like this.
“Japan is a difficult country to be gender equal and to have a world level road race.”
Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ Annemiek van Vleuten (pictured), winner of both the Giro Rosa and La Course, the women’s races attached to the men’s Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, respectively, this year, commented: “disappointed (again!) to see the differences in courses between the men’s and women’s road race.”
Marianne Vos, the Olympic champion in 2012 (also from the Netherlands), said that “the signal that goes out from these different course types for men and women is not the equality that the IOC aims for.”
The women’s road race at the Olympic Games is typically shorter than the men’s (the difference in Tokyo is set to be 137 kilometres for the women’s race compared with 234 kilometres for the men’s), but at the Rio 2016 games the course was identical, with the men simply completing more loops than the women.