Moral guardians in alarm mood

Moral guardians in alarm mood

Today, it is taken for granted almost everywhere that men and women compete in the Olympic Games. Things were very different 100 years ago. In protest, the first Women's Olympics were held at that time.

Today, women in the church are fighting for more participation and equal rights. 100 years ago, women in sports rebelled to take part in Olympic competitions. A milestone was the "First Women's Olympic Games," which took place on 24. March 1921 in Monte Carlo were opened.

Even in the decades before, the women who were condemned to watch the games had already voiced their displeasure. Pierre de Coubertin had revived the Olympic idea in 1896 and proclaimed the first games of modern times. For the founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the idea of women competing in running, javelin throwing or long jumping – the domain of men since ancient times – was a horror. He feared that the sport could be out of the focus of the spectators.

After all, athletics in particular could only be practiced in shorts instead of demure dresses, which put guardians of morals in a state of alarm.

Event was well received by the public

In 1900, 17 women took part in the games in Paris, in golf and tennis. In 1904 they competed for the first time in archery, in 1908 in figure skating and four years later in swimming. In athletics, women still only allowed to watch.

In 1921, therefore, around 100 of them followed suit with their own Olympic competitions – in hurdles, long jump and shot put, among others. Germany was not yet represented because the country was excluded from all international competitions after World War I. The event was well received by the public, which may not only have been due to the ambience with a view of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Women's Olympics was soon renamed the Women's World Games. These took place every four years from 1922. Meanwhile, prere on the Olympic Committee increased; Coubertin ended his IOC presidency in 1925. At the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, women's competitions in athletics and gymnastics were held for the first time.

Despite all the progress, there is still a lot of catching up to do

Even after World War II, women continued to struggle to participate in certain disciplines. A real breakthrough in Olympic participation did not occur until "the last third of the 20th century". The German Olympic Sports Confederation's (DOSB) Vice President Petra Tzschoppe, a sports historian from Leipzig, explains in an interview with the Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA) that "there has been a lot of progress in the field of equal rights in the Olympic Games since the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1996, women's soccer became Olympic, and since 2014, a female Olympic champion has been crowned in ski jumping. 2012 was another important year in terms of equality at the Olympics – at the London Games, for the first time all sports were played by women and men.

Nevertheless, Tzschoppe still sees a "clear need to catch up". In international federations, women are just as underrepresented in leadership positions as they are in training: "At the last Olympic Games, their share was only 11 percent," the sports sociologist calculates. Female referees and judges are also still in short supply, she says.

National flags carried by women and men

For all the progress that has been made, not every woman can play sports and take part in the Olympics today. Nationality or religious affiliation sometimes prohibit this. A problem that international sports federations have on their minds. There are numerous projects and measures to promote the participation of girls and women in school, popular and competitive sports – especially in countries that have reservations due to religious traditions, explains the DOSB vice president.

In addition, as early as 1996, an initiative called for sanctions if national Olympic committees did not field women on their teams.

In the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, the IOC spoke directly with those countries that had never had women compete, Tzschoppe says. As a result, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar also sent female athletes to the Olympics for the first time.

In 2020, the IOC also decided that, in future, one female athlete and one male athlete would carry the flag together when the more than 200 nations march in with their national flags at the opening ceremony. A symbol – "but that only works if men and women are represented in the teams".

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