Male Olympians Fly Business, Females in Economy
Japanese and Australian sports governing bodies have been slammed following complaints that their Olympic teams have been victims of gender discrimination. This comes as the male players for some teams were given business-class seats on flights to London for the Games, while their counterparts were put in premium economy on the same plane.
The Japanese world champion women’s football team was given premium economy seats for their 13-hour flight to Paris, while the men’s football team was given business-class seats on the same flight. The Japan Football Association (JFA) says that this happened because the men are professionals.
JFA media officer Kazutake Nishizawa says, under the Japanese Olympic Committee, they all fly economy. However, the men’s professional clubs in Europe and the J-League were upgraded, as is stipulated. There are no such stipulations for the women’s teams, while body size is taken into account as well. Although JFA president Kuniya Daini previously said the women’s team will fly home business-class, Nishizawa says they will have to check for available seating. They hope some players can be upgraded, but everyone can’t fly business-class, he added.
For Australia, it was the women’s basketball team who was flown in premium economy, while their counterparts enjoyed business-class. There were two female players, however, who flew up front on the flight - Lauren Jackson, whose an ambassador for the carrier involved; and Liz Cambage, who paid for an upgrade out of her own pocket. Of the two teams, the women have been most successful - winning silver medals at the last three Games. However, the men have never won a medal.
Basketball Australia, the governing body for the sport, says that it will review the travel policy to ensure travel arrangements are justified between the men’s and women’s teams in the future. Acting chief executive Scott Derwin noted that the budget policy gives the national team’s leaders some discretion in how their budgets are spent - including travel arrangements. It should also be kept in mind that the women’s team has been given more funding in the past. However, when a policy means inequality, it clearly isn’t the right policy, he added.