Almost 2,500 images have been reported to a new Japanese service designed to help stop sportswomen being sexualized

Almost 2,500 images have been reported to a new Japanese service designed to help stop sportswomen being sexualized
The Olympic flag and Japanese national flag at Tokyo 2020. Getty/Wang Lili
  • Female athletes in Japan have reported 2,500 images to a service set up to help address the sexualization of women in sport.
  • The site invites people to report sexualized photos of female athletes posted online.

Around 2,500 images have been reported to a new service designed to help tackle the sexualization of women in sport in Japan.

The service was set up by the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) last year after a number of former national team athletes complained of having photographs of a sexual nature taken of them while they competed.

Launched in November 2020, it allows female athletes to report sexualized images taken of them while competing to a designated website.

Kyodo News reports that the site's latest reported statistics from the site represent a major increase in the number of images submitted in recent months, with the total almost doubling since July.

The increase is believed to be a result of increased awareness of the issue due to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and a series of arrests earlier in the year.


Kyodo reports that in May, Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department arrested a 37-year-old man on suspicion of copyright infringement after he posted photos of several female athletes without permission on a pornographic website he operates.

In June, a 57-year-old man was then arrested on suspicion of damaging the reputation of a female athlete by posting a sexualised video he secretly took of her on a porn site.

Kyodo News says that in those cases that have been pursued, around half the material related to them was found to have been deleted.

Last year, the JOC and six other sporting governing bodies released a joint statement pledging to eradicate such abuse in Japan, calling the taking and distribution of sexualized images of female athletes "despicable."

"It's really important the issue is not being forgotten," JOC executive board member Keiko Momii said, per Kyodo News.


"We'll keep informing people on this issue regularly so people can keep it in mind."

Female athletes are fighting sexualization

Almost 2,500 images have been reported to a new Japanese service designed to help stop sportswomen being sexualized
Sarah Voss was one of several German gymnasts to Fabrice Coffrini/Getty

Female athletes are increasingly taking a stand against being sexualized and objectified during competitions, with several prominent examples occurring in recent months.

At Tokyo 2020, the German women's gymnastics team wore full-body unitards instead of the customary bikini-cut leotards as a stand against sexualization in the sport.

"To do splits and jumps, sometimes the leotards are not covering everything, sometimes they slip and that's why we invented a new form of leotard so that everyone feels safe around competitions and training," gymnast Sarah Voss said.

"Every time you don't feel safe it's distracting you from what you want to perform. I think that feeling safe and not thinking about what other people can or cannot see is quite relieving when you can compete like that."


Elsewhere, in July a Norwegian women's beach handball team made international headlines when they were fined for refusing to wear bikini bottoms to compete, while an Austrian climber was twice subjected to gratuitous shots of her butt being broadcast on TV.