Media Releases

Olympic gender inequalities persist: Report

April 9, 2013

TORONTO, ON – The 2012 London Olympics marked the first time in history that women were represented in every sport and that all of the 204 participating countries included female athletes. IOC president Jacques Rogge called it “a major boost for gender equality.” Yet, male athletes still had more events to participate in and medals to vie for, according to a new report published by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Sport Policy Studies.

The report shared results of a gender audit of the 2012 Games, conducted by Professor Peter Donnelly, director of the centre, and Dr. Michele K. Donnelly, from the University of Southern California. The researchers found that there were over 1,200 more male athletes than female athletes competing in London, and that there were 30 more events open to men than to women. Perhaps most striking was their finding that gender differences were evident in almost half of the 302 events. These ranged from differences in the number of men and women permitted to compete in an event, to discrepancies in race distances, to inconsistency in rules and equipment.

“We have called on the IOC, as the gatekeepers of the Olympics, to make a final commitment to gender equality at the Games in terms of an equal number of events for men and women, and near equivalence in the number of participants,” says Peter Donnelly.

The authors credit the IOC for the progress to date, especially in the last 15 years, but they argue that the organization can still do more. “The IOC is ideally located to be the moral leader in taking these final steps towards gender equality and to persuade the international federations that only gender equal events will be permitted at the Games,” says Peter Donnelly. “Why wait any longer?”

The full report, The London 2012 Olympics: A Gender Equality Audit, is available online here.


For more information, contact:

Professor Peter Donnelly, director of U of T’s Centre for Sport Policy Studies at: or 416-946-5071

Valerie Iancovich, communications specialist, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at:  or 416-946-3713

Dr. Michele Donnelly, University of Southern California at:  or 734-645-3297

Suzanne Wu, Director of Research Communications, University of Southern California  at: or 213-740-0252