Expert comment Has the Olympic Games caught up with the modern world

Despite greater representation of women in the Rio Olympics than in previous years, anachronisms and gender divisions still remain, according to John Williams from the Department of Sociology.

John, who is co-director of the Unit for Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement, has written an article for Think: Leicester, the University’s platform for independent academic opinion, discussing the founder of the modern Olympics movement, French aristocrat Baron de Coubertin, early notions of equality and fairness in social class in Olympic sports, and gender differences still found in certain sports, such as volleyball, swimming and gymnastics.

In the article he said: “Women and girl’s sport, in this country and elsewhere, needs to be considered on its own terms and it requires much more encouragement, funding and support of a kind that does not rely on the reproduction of traditional conventions about gender, or commercial interest and market forces. Then, perhaps, we can finally begin to see all our sporting stars for what they really are – exceptional, talented athletes. And national heroes.”