IGF: We Were ‘Not Aware’ of Tokyo 2020 Club’s Membership Policies Toward Women

January 20, 2017

The International Golf Federation was “not aware” that women were not full members of the Kasumigaseki Country Club, the site of Olympic golf for the 2020 Tokyo Games, GOLF.com has learned.

A report by The Guardian said that the International Olympic Committee has expressed concern over the issue, and would reach out to the IGF to see if they could influence the club to grant their female members full membership status. The report went on to say that it was unclear whether the IOC or IGF knew about the restrictions, which IGF Vice President Ty Votaw confirmed to GOLF.com Friday. 

Votaw said that KCC is working on a resolution to the discriminatory policies of the club, which bars its female members from playing on Sundays and some holidays.

“While Kasumigaseki Country Club does indeed have women members, and every committee at KCC has a woman representative, the IGF was not aware that women were not ‘full’ members, which means women are not permitted to play on certain Sundays and holidays,” Votaw said in an email.

One possible resolution on the table is moving the event from KCC to Wakasu Golf Links, a public course by Tokyo Bay. The Japan Golf Council, a non-profit organization aimed at modernizing the game in the country, is already lobbying for the change.

Golf’s surge in popularity in Asia, especially on the LPGA tour, makes the location of the 2020 Olympic Games ideal for the sport’s promotion on that side of the globe. With the club coming under fire, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike issued a public statement last week urging the club to admit fully its women members.

“I feel very uncomfortable that women cannot become full members in this day and age,” Koike said. “It should be a venue open to everyone.”

The IOC has said that Kasumigaseki Country Club “fully meets requirements for the Olympic-level golf competitions,” but that it would continue to monitor the situation and public discussions surrounding it. The club has hosted more high-level tournaments, including the 1999 Japan Women’s Open, than any other club in the country.