Olympic broadcasts trying hard not to sexualize female athletes

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Television broadcasts at the Tokyo Olympics are maintaining a concerted effort to ban sexualized images of female athletes, abiding by the mantra “sport appeal, not sex appeal.”

“You will not see in our coverage some things that we have been seeing in the past, with details and close-ups on parts of the body,” Yiannis Exarchos, the chief executive of Olympic Broadcasting Services, told reporters Monday. “What we can do is to make sure that our coverage does not highlight or feature in any particular way what people are wearing.”

Before the Tokyo Games began, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) released an updated version of the “Portrayal Guidelines” to help orchestrate “gender-equal and fair” broadcasts ahead of this year’s competition. The guidelines recommend that broadcasts “do not focus unnecessarily on looks, clothing or intimate body parts” and “respect the integrity of the athlete.”

“We in media have not yet done all that we can do,” Exarchos said. “This is something that we need to be frank and open (about) among ourselves.”

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Naoko Imoto, the adviser on gender equality to the Tokyo Olympics, was critical of the media’s handling of sexualization of women on Monday.

“It’s really biased when it comes to gender,” Imoto said. “Many of the channels look at female athletes (as) girls or wives or mothers and not really as pure athletes. Most of it also really gives attention to the look saying… they are beautiful or sexy.

“They are powerful and they are also beautiful, but they are not just women. They are athletes.”

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