Gender equality on the way in shooting for Tokyo Olympics

Zhang Shan of China in the skeet open event in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the men had conspired to introduce a separate skeet event for women by the Sydney Games in 2000. Shooting is all set for a world of change which will see the introduction of three mixed team events one each in rifle, pistol and shotgun.

Jitu Rai missed the free pistol final with a bad penultimate shot in the Rio Olympics.   -  PTI

The more we change, the more we tend to revert to the original. After being beaten by a woman, Zhang Shan of China in the skeet open event in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the men had conspired to introduce a separate skeet event for women by the Sydney Games in 2000.

Now, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on a power drive towards achieving gender equality in terms of the Olympic medals on offer in the Tokyo Games in 2020, shooting is all set for a world of change. The biggest change will be the introduction of three mixed team events one each in rifle, pistol and shotgun.

In the last Olympic programme in Rio, there were nine men’s events and six women’s events. There was a fine proportion of five each in rifle, pistol and shotgun. Without trying to disturb the balance between the three disciplines,the ad-hoc committee of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), which has been studying the subject for about two years, has suggested the removal of men’s prone, free pistol and double trap events from the Olympics, and the introduction of mixed team events in air pistol, air rifle and trap.

"The path of this recommendation involved many difficult, emotional and courageous decisions by coaches, athletes, members of all selection committees, ISSF leaders and many persons in the shooting community, who tried to act in the best interests of future generations in our sport while emphasising the priority of keeping shooting in the Olympic Games’’, said a statement from the ISSF.

The recommendations have now been brought to the attention of the athletes, coaches, national federations and fans, to gauge their pulse and gain their response. Their suggestions will once again be studied by the ad-hoc committee, along with the report of the IOC on Rio 2016 event-based evaluation, that is expected to be released in January.

The final recommendations are scheduled to be presented to the ISSF Executive and Administrative Council, which will take a call and submit a final proposal to the IOC by the end of February. The IOC, in turn, is expected to decide on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic programme by mid 2017.

Till the decision is made by the IOC, the ISSF will continue to keep all the events in the World Cups and also conduct the mixed team events, starting with the first World Cup to be staged in New Delhi in February. The events that may be replaced eventually in the Olympic programme, will continue to be part of the World Championships, held every four years, apart from the shotgun World Championships held every two years.