• Kyodo

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Organizers are considering having one female and one male athlete swear the Olympic Oath at the upcoming Tokyo Games opening ceremony, a source familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Traditionally, one athlete from the host nation recites the oath on behalf of all games participants but having a mixed-gender pair carry out the rite on July 23 would be a nod to gender balance and equality recommendations set out in Olympic Agenda 2020.

At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, female handball player Son Mi Na and male basketball player Hur Jae delivered the athletes’ oath together in the only previous occasion where more than one person has given the Olympic pledge of sportsmanship.

The International Olympic Committee has called the Tokyo Olympics “the first-ever gender-balanced Olympic Games in history,” with almost 49 percent of the athletes participating being women and a record number of female competitors at the Paralympics.

The idea is being considered just months after previous organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori stepped down amid an uproar over sexist comments he made regarding women’s input in meetings.

The 83-year-old retracted the remarks and offered an apology “to anyone I have offended” but blamed the media for fanning public anger.

The IOC has encouraged National Olympic Committees to take up the option to have both a female and male flagbearer, and also decided that each of the 206 delegations should include at least one male and one female.

In addition to the delegation captain, the Japanese Olympic Committee is planning to add a vice-captain for the first time at a Summer Games. The team will ensure each role is held by an athlete of a different gender.

All three oath takers at past Olympics held in Japan have been men.

Gymnast Takashi Ono took the Olympic Oath in 1964 when Tokyo last hosted the Summer Games. Speed skater Keiichi Suzuki took the oath at the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games and Nordic combined skier Kenji Ogiwara did so at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.

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