IGF threatens to relocate Olympic golf competition after discriminatory policy vote fails

February 7, 2017

Another Olympic golf competition, another Olympic golf course controversy.

Kasumigaseki Country Club, which is set to host the Olympic golf competition for the 2020 Tokyo Games, failed to reach a resolution ending its policy restricting women from becoming full members.

According to Reuters, the board met on Tuesday following public pressure on the club, the Tokyo organizing committee and the International Golf Federation to end the club’s discriminatory policies or find a more inclusive venue to host the competition, but the vote was postponed after the resolution failed to garner the necessary unanimous support of its 15 members.

International Golf Federation vice president Ty Votaw told GOLF.com that the club’s decision could cost them the chance to host the Olympic golf competition.

“The IGF has clearly stated to both Tokyo 2020 and Kasumigaseki C.C. our requirements that the golf competition be delivered according to the Olympic Charter,” he said. “If the Club does not change its rules, then we cannot support holding the events at this venue.”

Board chairman Kiichi Kimura later complained to reporters that the increased scrutiny accompanying such a high-profile international competition has put him and his fellow members in a difficult situation.

“That this situation has developed is a nuisance for us, it’s really perplexing,” he said.

The club’s policy, which bars female members from playing on Sundays and certain holidays, was thrust into the spotlight when Yuriko Koike, who became Tokyo’s first female city governor last summer, issued a public statement urging the club to extend equal status to its female members.

“I feel very uncomfortable that women cannot become full members in this day and age,” Koike said. “It should be a venue open to everyone.”

In response, the International Olympic Committee called upon the IGF, which told GOLF.com its leadership “was not aware” of the policy, to work with Kasumigaseki to resolve the issue in advance of the Tokyo Games.

The Japan Golf Council, a non-profit organization working to modernize the game, is leading an effort to relocate the event to a nearby public track called Wakasu Golf Links, but it’s unclear whether this latest setback will help build momentum for their proposal.