IOC keeps up push for more women athletes

28 October 2005

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board continued their push to have more women competiting in the Olympics when they approved a host of new events for the 2008 Beijing Games.

Demands to increase the number of teams in women's football, hockey, and handball were all rubber stamped by the board.

All three sports are increased from 10 to 12 teams and an extra 80 women will compete in Beijing.

The executive board turned down plans to include women's boxing but director of sport Kelly Fairweather said the door was not closed.

"We will continue to review the requests," he explained. "We did not feel that women's boxing had reached the stage to merit inclusion."

But it will be looked at again in 2009 and could be included for the London 2012 Games.

Also rejected was a bid by softball to increase the number of teams from eight to 10.

Beijing will be softball's last Olympics. In July the IOC session voted both softball and baseball off the Olympic program.

Other new disciplines also to be seen in Beijing is a women's 3,000m steeplechase, a 10km open water swimming event for both men and women and doubles events in table tennis are to be replaced by men and women's team events.

In Athens 59 per cent of the athletes were men and 41 percent women.

The IOC is pushing to eventually have the level at 50-50.