Gender equality issues in pre-olympic training

PhD, Associate Professor S.G. Maltseva1
Dr. Hab., Professor N.G. Zakrevskaya1
PhD, Associate Professor V.V. Ermilova1
PhD, Associate Professor E.G. Putyatova1
1Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, St. Petersburg

Keywords: international sports, gender equality, Olympic Games

Background. Global sports have many formal and informal missions including the humanistic ones, with the gender equality lately ranked higher and higher among the latter. Gender issues in the sport sector were on agenda since the XX century, but the special priority to these issues has been given since the sports were fast globalized and made increasingly accessible for women and world communities on the whole. The global sport communities have persistently taken the relevant efforts including the current special initiatives in preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The project to secure gender equality in the Olympic movement was approved by the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on its session in Pyeongchang on March 16, 2017, with special provisions to improve the global awareness of the gender equality in the Olympic movement. On 09.06.2017 the IOC official website informed on the decision that resulted in serious adjustments to the 2020 Olympic Games program. The changes included additional 15 sports disciplines on top of the mixed disciplines that were increased from 9 to 18. These measures has secured the highest gender balance for the Olympic Games history as verified, for example, by the following growth of the women’s share among the qualifiers: 44.2% in the 2012 Olympic Games (London); 45.6% in 2016 Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro) and 48.8% in 2020 Olympic Games (Tokyo).

Objective of the study was to profile attitudes of the national youth community to the gender equality in the physical education and sports sector.

Methods and structure of the study. In October 2018 the Social Technologies and Mass Communications Department of Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health hosted a round table ‘Gender equality in the Physical Education and Sport service sector: pros and cons’ with participation of the Department faculty and students. Timed to the round table discussions was a questionnaire survey of 41 people designed to complement the research project by the Department faculty.

Results and discussion. The questionnaire survey has found the gender equality issues being important for 97.6% of the sample, with the gender equality sensitivity for the global elite sports acknowledged by 100% of the sample. The respondents were found to differ on the issue of the gender equality coverage by the global and national mass media organizations: 50.5% believe the coverage is sufficient; 49.5% feel that is it still limited; and 87% of the sample was found to believe that the international communities are misguided by the mass media organizations on these issues.

The gender equality issues in the sports sector, in our opinion, have their negative aspects that are still largely beyond the scope of the public attention. First of all, the gender approach needs to be sensitive to the natural gender differences due to a variety of biological, psycho-physiological, anatomical and socio-cultural factors. The traditional and typical socializing process has always qualified sports as a priority sector for men to vent their aggression and compete in willpower, strength, mettle and determination in aggressive and uncompromising physical and mental struggle. However, the women’s desire to assert themselves in competitions in every genuinely men’s sport discipline have resulted in transformations of the masculinity/ femininity identities of the sport disciplines with the growing androgyny of athletes. The gender equality issues have become even more critical with the fast growth of the transgender population willing to compete on the equal terms with the other athletes. However, it appears that the transgender people’s rights have been aggressively advanced and defended in the global sports at sacrifice for the interests of the other athletes in fact. Until recently transgender people were required to present their sex transformation surgery certificates to qualify for competitions, but lately the situation has been changed. The IOC has changed the qualification rules for transgender Olympians to allow them to compete without the sex transformation surgery certificates.

It may be pertinent to remind that the global sports have evolved to a rather controversial socio-cultural phenomenon with their sporting spirit and priority to a fair rivalry [1, 3]. And it is disappointing that the unfair aspects of such initiatives are often underestimated by the hosts and competitors. When it comes to the gender equality issues, the modern culture offers a few standards or scripts that clearly run counter to the millenniums-old traditions and rules and, therefore, multiple ‘traditional’ athletes feel their rights being infringed since they are often mentally and physically unfit for the changes and unprepared to compete with the transgender rivals. It was for the sake of the gender equality, for instance, that the IOC has made changes to the men’s weightlifting program of the 2020 Olympic Games to eliminate one weight class to reduce the number of weight classes the same as in the women’s program. Does anybody care if the declassified male weightlifters are happy with the changes, whether or not their rights are respected by the reformers and what can be done to defend them? Before leveling down the shares of men and women qualifiers for the Olympic Games it could be reasonable to study the actual proportions of the both sexes in the global sporting population for this sport discipline on the whole and for every its weight class and event in particular.

Conclusion. The gender equality issues in preparations for the Olympic Games are formally ranked among the most critical and concerning albeit the actual situation is different in fact. The proposed regulations were found to discredit the notion and meaning of gender equality – that is rather used to disguise the vested commercial, political and other interests of the event organizers in fact. Modern Russian society is unprepared to fully accept the western interpretation of gender equality in sports and impose it on the national communities. Therefore, the Russian research community is recommended to develop a concept of gender equality in sports with due respect to the natural biological, psycho-physiological, socio-cultural and other factors including the ethnic/ national traditions and values.

References

  1. Ermilova V.V., Maltseva S.G., Zakharov K.S. Vliyanie sportivnogo megasobytiya, Chempionata mira po futbolu – 2018, na razvitie sportivno-sobyitiynogo turizma v Rossiyskoy Federatsii [Impact of mega-events, World Cup 2018, on development of sports event tourism in the Russian Federation]. Proc. final res.-pract. conf. of NSU staff, St. Petersburg for 2017. St. Petersburg, 2018. v.  1. pp. 112-114.
  2. Putyatova E.G. Mezhdunarodnye sportivnye migratsii kak sredstvo formirovaniya imidzha strany [International sports migration to build country's image]. Proc. final scientific conference of Lesgaft NSU department, St. Petersburg for 2016. St. Petersburg, 2017. pp. 95-97.

Corresponding author: suncrown@yandex.ru

Abstract

The study analyzes the issues of gender equality in modern international sports. In 2018 the Social Technologies and Mass Communications Department of Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health hosted a round table ‘Gender equality in the Physical Education and Sport service sector: pros and cons’ with participation of the Department faculty and students. Timed to the round table discussions was a questionnaire survey of 41 people designed to complement the research project by the Department faculty.

The study and analyses showed that the gender equality issues in preparations for the Olympic Games are formally ranked among the most critical and concerning albeit the actual situation is different in fact. The proposed regulations were found to discredit the notion and meaning of gender equality – that is rather used to disguise the vested commercial, political and other interests of the event organizers in fact. Modern Russian society is unprepared to fully accept the western interpretation of gender equality in sports and impose it on the national communities. Therefore, the Russian research community is recommended to develop a concept of gender equality in sports with due respect to the natural biological, psycho-physiological, socio-cultural and other factors including the ethnic/ national traditions and values.