Heading out the door shortly to attend the opening of the fifth World Conference on Women and Sport which kicks off today in Los Angeles. Olympic Boulevard is the destination address for delegates and although I’ve lived in LA for a long time, I never knew that the major thoroughfare was renamed from 10th Street to honor the 1932 Summer Games. Good piece of trivia to know.
The Women and Sport Conference, held only during Olympic years, will be exploring the theme “Together Stronger: the Future of Sport.” Sessions focus on identifying ways to improve and increase the participation of women in the world of sport. Nearly 800 delegates from 140 countries will convene for three days of panels and presentations.
Anita DeFrantz, chairwoman of the IOC’s Women and Sport Commission, will participate in the opening ceremony at Club Nokia. She is scheduled to be joined by IOC President Jacques Rogge; Sebastian Coe, chairman of the organizing committee of the London Games; two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle Kwan; and other dignitaries.
In addition to the opening ceremony, this evening’s schedule includes the IOC’s annual Women and Sport Awards. Six trophies, one world and five continental, will be given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding contributions to the development of women’s participation in and administration of sport.
The IOC website points out that 4,637 women, or 42.4% of participants, competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Those were records, up from 4,329 women and 40.7% of competitors at Athens in 2004. The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics included 1,044 female athletes, 40.7% of the total. That was up from 960 women and 38.2% at the 2006 Turin Games.
Rogge and Coe are scheduled to appear at a discussion Friday morning on leadership views on women in the world of sport. Delegates from the United Nations and the U.S. Department of State will also participate in discussions, as will Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Three-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar (
@Hogshead3au), a law professor and advocate of gender equity in education and sports, will discuss the effect of public policies on promoting the sports participation of girls and women.
The three-day conference also coincides with the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that prohibits gender-based discrimination in sports and educational programs.
Other panels will discuss medical issues, developing leadership and media coverage of female athletes. We have some great interviews lined up over the next couple of days and of course will be tweeting throughout (from @prettytough). Let us know if you have any specific questions for any of the participants and we’ll try to get them answered.