After weeks of criticism, Japan’s Kasumigaseki Country Club has voted to admit women as full members for the first time.
The Tokyo 2020 golf venue had faced the potential removal of its hosting rights after the International Olympic Committee said it would only go to a club with a non-discriminatory policy.
Despite having over 200 female golfers on its books, women were not allowed to become full members and couldn’t play on certain Sundays — restrictions that did not apply to men.
The IOC made it clear they would have no trouble finding another venue if the policy remained in place, and the club’s board members has acted swiftly to change its membership policy.
“I’d like to extend my gratitude to the members of the club for their understanding and cooperation,” Tokyo Games chief Yoshiro Mori said in a statement.
“Kasumigaseki Country Club is an outstanding venue with excellent courses, and we are proud it will be hosting world’s top-tier golfers from all over the world for the Olympics Games.”
Mori also praised the “short period of time” in which the agreement had been reached, but not before the public outcry.
Yuriko Koike, Tokyo’s first female governor, had stressed she felt “very uncomfortable” women could not become members “in this day and age,” adding it should be “a venue open to everyone.”
Meanwhile, Olympic silver medalist Lydia Ko said she hoped the notion of golf as a men’s game could left behind in “the past generations,” stressing how popular the women’s game has become in Japan.
Tokyo 2020 will be golf’s second appearance on the Olympic programme since 1904 after its return in Rio de Janeiro.
Skateboarding, karate, surfing, sports climbing and baseball/softball have all been approved by the IOC for upcoming Games.