London Olympics hero Jessica Fox, has slammed a claim by canoeing’s world governing body that their decision to push for more women’s Olympic events from 2020 should “certainly please” her.
And her father, 10-time world champion Richard Fox, has warned the decision not to seek earlier change for the 2016 Rio Games will further highlight the poor deal the sport gives women at the Olympics.
The International Canoe Federation (ICF) announced on Saturday it would push to have women’s C1 slalom and C1 200m sprint included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Nineteen-year-old Fox, the C1 slalom world champion, has campaigned to have more women’s events included, but hoped it would happen for Rio. Fox won a silver medal at the London Olympics in the K1 event.
She was angered by an official ICF news release claiming its 2020 decision should “certainly please” her. The release included a photograph of Fox with arms outstretched after a recent victory.
“As a C1 woman, to know it will be in the Olympics is great news, however as a high level athlete, ready for Rio, I am upset that you would assume that this will ‘certainly please’ me, because in fact, I am not celebrating with my arms outstretched,” said Fox.
“To be honest it’s a slap in the face and misleading.
“You would also know that I have been a vocal advocate for (change at) Rio, with the support of my federation, government and Olympic Committee, not to mention all the C1 women around the world.
“So while this news is fantastic for the future of the sport, the current reality is that women are still excluded for seven more years.”
In his role as Australian Canoeing’s national performance director, Fox’s father Richard sent an angry email to the ICF.
“The exclusion of women from all canoe class events across both sprint and slalom disciplines at the Olympic Games is a remarkable situation for the ICF to maintain until Tokyo, when other sports are clearly shining under the light of increased gender diversity,” he wrote.
“The fact is there are five canoe class events offered for men across sprint and slalom, and not a single women’s canoe event, which means our sport will remain firmly at the bottom of the league table when it comes to gender equity measures in Rio 2016.”
As the program stands, women will compete for five gold medals in Rio, while men will race for 11.
“Unlike other sports, the ICF has not taken the opportunity to propose a quota neutral solution for Rio, i.e. include an additional women’s event while removing a men’s event, because it is too tough.”