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IOC VP: Tokyo Olympic golf course must admit female members

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TOKYO (AP) — The club that is set to host the 2020 Olympic golf tournament must change its policy of excluding women as full members or the event will go elsewhere, IOC vice president John Coates said Thursday.

Coates, in Tokyo for a two-day coordination commission meeting, said some progress has been made on the issue but that the International Olympic Committee can only wait so long.

“At some point there has to be a cut off,” Coates said. “Image wise, our position is clear. We will only go to a club that has nondiscrimination.”

Kasumigaseki Country Club board members met last month to discuss the issue but so far have failed to make a decision about changing their policy.

The issue surfaced in mid-January when Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike urged Kasumigaseki to admit women as full members. Following that, the IOC inquired about the club’s membership practice.

“It’s possible to go elsewhere, but I think this is going to work,” Coates said. “It’s heading in the right direction for them to have a nondiscriminatory membership procedure. It would appear that we would have this result by the end of June.”

Founded in 1929 as a private club funded by about 300 wealthy men, Kasumigaseki is one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in the country and has hosted more top level tournaments than any other Japanese course.

To join Kasumigaseki, an applicant needs to obtain a reference from a current member and pay 8 million yen ($70,800) to become a regular member first, then pay additional 4 million yen ($35,400) to be a full member.

The club does not allow women to become full members or play on Sundays.

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IOC: Tokyo Olympics’ huge cost could give wrong message

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TOKYO (AP) — A top IOC official renewed his demand Thursday that Japanese organizers further reduce their $18 billion budget ceiling for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying the figure could scare off cities considering bids for future Games.

IOC vice president John Coates, who heads the coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, was referring to the announcement by local organizers this week of a 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) cap on the overall cost.

Coates told the coordination meeting in Tokyo on Thursday that the International Olympic Committee has not accepted the figure. He said all cities seeking to host future Games are watching Tokyo and officials should avoid making a “wrong impression” about what it costs to host the Olympics, according to Kyodo News.

Coates said he expected “significant further savings” to be made.

Japanese organizers have yet to compile a total cost estimate, though their first official budget is expected by the end of the year.

Tokyo’s Olympic costs have soared amid Japan’s reconstruction from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the year Tokyo launched its bid for the Games. The city secured the Games in 2013.

A Tokyo government panel has also accused local organizers of allowing big public works spending for the Olympics without a long-term vision for legacy use. The panel has said the cost of the Olympics could exceed $30 billion — four times the initial estimate — unless drastic cuts are made.

The IOC also has come under pressure to reduce costs in order to lure cities to bid for future Games. The $51 billion price tag associated with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi led numerous cities to drop out of bidding for the 2022 and 2024 Olympics. The IOC is now encouraging cities to make maximum use of existing and temporary facilities.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has spearheaded the cost-cutting effort, proposing a review of the three costly venues.

Koike agreed Tuesday to keep the rowing, canoe sprint and swimming venues at their planned sites in Tokyo, rather than moving them to existing venues outside the capital, while securing commitments for substantial cost reductions.

A decision on a possible switch of the volleyball venue was delayed until late December.

Yoshiro Mori, head of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee, said he wanted to see volleyball held in Tokyo’s Ariake Arena as planned, instead of Yokohama — considered as an alternate option — so the venue can serve as a long-term legacy.

MORE: Tokyo 2020: A look at the rising costs

Skateboarders’ petition against Olympic inclusion likely a misunderstanding, IOC official says

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TOKYO (AP) — IOC vice president John Coates is pleased with the “balanced package” of proposed additional sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expects that skateboarding will soon be represented by a single international federation to push its case for inclusion in the games.

Baseball-softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing were recommended for inclusion last month by the Tokyo organizing committee.

A final decision on which sport or sports to add to the Tokyo program will be made by the International Olympic Committee next August. Under new IOC rules, a host city can propose the addition of one or more sports to their games.

“Our reaction is that it’s a very good balanced package,” Coates said Wednesday. “We have traditional sports, innovative new sports that appeal to the youth of the world. We have outdoor sports, indoor sports. It’s the assessment of the package as a whole that is very important.”

Coates was in Tokyo as head of an IOC “project review” of the city’s Olympic preparations.

In response to media reports citing opposition among some skateboarding groups to be recognized as an Olympic event, Coates said the IOC will recognize a separate skateboarding federation independent of the International Roller Sports Federation.

“Skateboarding is a comparatively new sport,” Coates said. “There are a number of federations that conduct skateboarding events internationally, and we are in discussion with them, and I would expect that one of the federations will be identified in the near future that we will work with and recognize.”

Coates said that a petition by skateboarders not to have their sport included was likely the result of a misunderstanding.

“I’ve seen tremendous support from international and national skateboarders on the basis that there will be a new federation representing them,” Coates added.

Baseball and softball have been out of the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games, and their proposed inclusion as a joint bid had been considered a virtual certainty because of the high popularity of those sports in Japan.

A recent gambling scandal has tarnished the image of baseball in Japan, but Coates said it was unlikely that would hurt the sport’s chances to get back on the Olympic program.

A pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most popular baseball team, was suspended for betting on games, including those involving his own team.

“Certainly Illegal betting on games, the IOC has zero tolerance for that,” Coates said. “In drafting the rules for participation of athletes in the games, we make it quite clear that athletes are not allowed to bet on games. … This s a problem that is frowned on in sports in Japan and it’s not going to effect the decision to be taken with baseball.”

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