Regardless of Wins, Female Athletes Fly Economy
Difference in how women's teams were treated has sparked outrage and accusations of sexism
Madison Park CNN
July 20, 2012(HONG KONG) (CNN) -- The Australian women's basketball team and the Japanese women's soccer team flew in premium economy seats in their flights to Europe, while their male counterparts stretched out in business class.
Nevermind that the women's Australian basketball team has won silver medals in the last three Olympics -- and the Aussie men have won none. And it also mattered little that the women's Japanese soccer team won last year's World Cup.
The difference in how the women's teams were treated has sparked outrage and accusations of sexism. It prompted Basketball Australia to announce that it would review its travel policy "with the goal of ensuring there is equity between travel arrangements for the men's and women's teams attending future Olympics."
That review, which was announced Friday, is expected to take about three months.
Basketball Australia quoted Scott Derwin, its acting chief executive, in a statement explaining that each national team has discretion over how their funds are spent, including travel arrangements.
"We should bear in mind that in fact, historically, more funding has been directed towards the Opals," Derwin said in the statement.
The Opals refer to the Australian women's basketball team and the Boomers are the men's basketball team.
The spokeswoman for Basketball Australia declined to comment when reached by CNN on Friday.
In the statement released Friday by the organization, Derwin said: "But the simple fact is when a policy results in gender inequality, it's very clearly not the right policy going forward."
The incoming chief executive officer of Basketball Australia, Kristina Keneally said in the statement, "In this day and age, there's just no excuse for men's and women's sporting teams to be treated differently when they both compete at the same world class level.
"In fact, in this circumstance, the disparity is even more glaring when you consider that our women's basketball team is one of the best in the world - enjoying the number 2 spot in international rankings," Keneally added.
Australia's Minister for Sport, Kate Lundy, agreed.
"They shouldn't have to travel a different class because they're both world class," she said in a statement Thursday.
While saying that travel arrangements are a matter for the national Olympic committee and the relevant national sporting organization, Lundy stated: "My view is that team travel should be equitable for our male and female athletes."
Australia's basketball team was not alone.
Earlier this week, Homare Sawa, the Japanese women's soccer captain, and her teammates flew premium economy to Paris, while the men's team enjoyed the perks of business class. After arriving, Sawa, FIFA's Women's World Player of the Year, told the Japanese media that the travel arrangements should've been reversed, with the men in economy and the reigning World Cup champions in business class.
CNN's Judy Kwon and Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.