A female royal bicycle racer has requested arbitration from the Japan Sports Arbitration Agency over what she claims is an unfair process to select athletes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics compared with the way male racers are chosen, a lawyer representing her said Wednesday.
Eri Yonamine, who competed in the 2016 Olympics, claims the Japan Cycling Federation has set the bar far higher than for male racers and that she would have been picked otherwise based on her performance in recent races, according to the lawyer.
She had multiple discussions with the federation but did not receive sufficient explanation, the lawyer said.
Per the federation’s rules, male athletes are chosen partly based on points accrued from various road cycling tours such as the Union Cycliste Internationale’s. Female athletes are picked based on fewer races and their resulting ranks.
The selection period ends on May 31 2020 for both sexes. However, the period is shorter for women, as it starts on June 1 while it started on Jan. 1 for the men.
“If she were a man, she would definitely be picked already based on her accomplishments. But since she’s a woman, her evaluation is zero” as of this month, the lawyer said, adding, “The selection period for women is shorter and the type of races are limited.”
Yonamine has been competing in races in Europe.
A federation official said it will not change the rules to make them comparable as “the number of athletes and races differ between men and women.”