WEB DESK: The Australian government has warned top sports bodies to end years of second-class citizenship for female athletes and pay for them to travel in the same style as males for major events overseas.
Sports minister Sussan Ley and Australian Sports Commission chair John Wylie have written to the top 30 funded organisations threatening cuts if “gender-neutral” travel is not introduced.
“In 2016, we can think of no defensible reason why male and female athletes should travel in different classes or stay in different standard accommodation when attending major international sporting events,” the letter says.
“The ASC is now proposing to make gender-neutral travel policies for senior major championships a condition of investment by the ASC in a sport.”
The commission will provide Aus$134 million ($94 million) in funding to sports organisations in the year to June.
Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “Quite frankly I was shocked and surprised to find that in every sport it isn’t always the case that the guys and the girls fly and are accommodated at the same level of travel.
“I am prepared to tie the funding to compliance with this but I don’t expect it to come to an argument. I know it won’t, in fact.
“This is not a name and shame exercise,” she added.
“This is a strongly worded request… to remind the sports (bodies) that the significant funding that comes to them courtesy of the taxpayer does sometimes have some strings attached.”
Media slammed Basketball Australia after the Opals female team travelled economy to the 2012 Olympics in London unlike the men who flew business, despite being less successful.
In Canberra, opposition Labor MP Lisa Chesters weighed into the debate saying there was no justification to treat men better than women.
“We’ve got a long way to go to ensure our women athletes are treated the same as male athletes,” she told reporters.
Pro surfing great Layne Beachley welcomed the move.
“There was huge disparity between the level of prize money, level of endorsements, level of marketing opportunity,” she told ABC News 24.
“Now we are seeing that gap narrow. It will take time but it starts with education, awareness and someone taking a stance and saying this is unacceptable, we need to change it.”
Ley said sporting organisations had already responded well to a request to boost the numbers of women on their boards.
She also called for gender-neutral progress in domestic sports leagues and for elite level mothers to get help.
“If you are competing at that level and your child needs to travel with you, of course arrangements I’m sure would be made. That is common sense,” she said.