Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka lights the flame of hope in the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on July 23. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo
July 14 (UPI) -- Olympic organizers said on Wednesday that the Tokyo Summer Games will be the first that are gender-equal -- and announced a new oath that will be taken by athletes, coaches and judges.
The International Olympic Committee said nearly half of all athletes at the Games will be female, and that all participating nations are given the opportunity to be represented by a minimum of one female and one male athlete.
Also, the IOC Executive Board changed protocol to allow one male and one female athlete to jointly carry their country's flag during the Opening Ceremony.
The committee said it encourages all natons to use the opportunity to "send a strong message of inclusive and gender-equal Olympic Games where women and men have equal prominence."
The IOC also announced that there will be a new wording of the Olympic oath, which is given at the start of the Games.
The new oath states: "We promise to take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules and in the spirit of fair play, inclusion and equality. Together we stand in solidarity and commit ourselves to sport without doping, without cheating, without any form of discrimination. We do this for the honor of our teams, in respect for the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, and to make the world a better place through sport."
Additionally, there will now be six oath-takers instead of three -- two athletes, two coaches and two judges.
The moves reflect a drive toward gender equality, organizers said.
"The gender balance of the oath-takers is just one of a large number of decisions and commitments from the IOC and the Organizing Committee to promote women in sport at all levels and in all structures," the IOC said in a statement.
IOC President Thomas Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko met Wednesday to discuss final preparations with nine days to go before the start of the Games.
Officials said almost all IOC staff are fully vaccinated and 85% of athletes and officials will stay in the Olympic Village. Bach said of about 8,000 people involved in the Games who traveled to Japan this month, only three tested positive and were isolated.
"These Games will be followed by billions of people around the globe," the IOC president said. "They will admire what the Japanese people have achieved under these difficult circumstances."
Simone Biles stands on the floor after winning the gold medal in the floor exercise at the Olympic Arena of the Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on August 16, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo