The chairman of the Japanese golf club set to host the sport at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics said they are bewildered by requests lift its ban on women becoming full members.

Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, north of Tokyo, postponed a decision to review its membership policy following a board meeting on Tuesday after the club came under fire from Tokyo’s female governor Yuriko Koike.

The governor said she felt “uncomfortable that women cannot become full members in the 21st century,” while the International Olympic Committee also expressed concerns about the rule.

Tokyo organisers have also filed a written request to the golf club to change the rule, a Tokyo 2020 official told AFP on Wednesday.

A meeting to discuss requests to drop its ban on full female members ended with no firm decision, according to public broadcasters NHK.

“It’s extremely annoying the situation has evolved into what it is so quickly,” board chairman Kiichi Kimura told local media. “There was no decision and we will discuss it further. 

“We are baffled, that’s our situation right now,” he said. “We agreed (to host the Olympic golf competitions) at their request, but we never made a bid (to host it).”

The row comes after calls to move the 2020 Olympic tournament from the private club because of the rule, which allows women to play from Monday to Saturday but bars them from becoming full members and from playing on Sundays.

Yukihiko Nunomura, Tokyo 2020’s chief operating officer, who was briefed about the meeting, later told reporters he expect that the club “will move towards operating with gender equality in mind,” according to the Tokyo 2020 official.

Plans for the Tokyo Games have been marred by problems, most notably huge cost overruns which have triggered sharp public exchanges between organisers and Koike’s office. – Agence France-Presse

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