Women In Sports : Get on more equal footing at the Olympics. One after another more barriers will give way to the skill - and the will - of these great female athletes. 

Almost half of the athletes at the Summer Games in Tokyo will be women.

The Olympics, which start in July but retain their original name despite being postponed to this year,  are poised to be the most women-centered games in history.

According to the I.O.C. women will makeup 48.8 percent of the total field of Olympians, an increase from 45 percent participation at the 2016 Rio Olympics Games and the 2.2 percent at the 1900 Olympics, the first to include women.

There, 22 women appeared in five, genteel ''ladies'' sports, including golf and croquet.

This summer, more than 5,000 female athletes will compete in more than 300 events, many involving speed, risk, strength, smarts and guts.

The competitive schedule will also highlight women's events, slotting many during major, global broadcast periods.

This focus on numbers and visibility of women at the Olympics represents the culmination of strategy begun in 2014, when the I.O.C. adapted a new planning agenda that explicitly included a commitment to ''gender equality.'' That goal will have been realized with these Games, a committee spokesman said.

If so, the 2020 Olympics could become a liminal moment for women's sports, amping interest in and opportunities for female athletes, attracting new sponsors and broadcast deals, opening coaching jobs and leadership roles, and furthering the push for equal pay in women's and men's sports.

But analysts and even some athletes remain unconvinced that the Games can - or should - accomplish  so much.

''Historically, the boost that the Olympics and all big sporting events have given to interest in and coverage of women has not translated into lasting changes,'' said Olga Harvey, the chief strategy and impact officer at the Women's Sports Foundation, an advocacy organization founded by the tennis star Billie Jean King.

These Games also sustained an early dent to their reputation for supporting women after the president of the organizing committee and executive creator director of the Games' opening and other ceremonies resigned following remarks considered sexist.

Still, most analysts and female athletes are at least grudgingly hopeful that the Games will be different. No previous global sporting event has showcased women to the same extent, including in marquee new sports.

In fact, all five of the new sports debuting or returning to this year's Games - surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, karate and baseball and softball offer identical numbers of events for men and women and nearly equal totals of male and female competitors.

Softball, where team rosters are smaller than in baseball, will field fewer female athletes than on the men's side.

Similarly, multiple existing Olympic sports, some once male-dominated, have added mediagenic new events with women's divisions, including BMX freestyle park riding and canoe singles.

Other sports have created new mixed competitions, where men and women compete together. All told, 18 events this summer will be mixed, twice as many as at the Rio Games. 

These mixed-gender competitions include a 4X400 track relay, mixed-doubles in table tennis and a four-person mixed relay in triathlon.

In that event, each racer swims 300 meters [about 325 yards], cycles eight kilometers [about 5 miles] and sprints a final two kilometers, before slapping a hand of her or his teammate.

Only equestrian events allow men and women to compete head-to-head, both as riders and mounts.

For the female athletes, these new events and the Games overall focus on women loom as a challenge and a thrill.

''I like to compete with men,'' said Leonie Periault, 26, a top-ranked French Triathlete, who expects to represent France in the individual triathlon at the Summer Games and the new mixed relay.

''Doing triathlon since a young age, I used to race against boys, and I wanted to beat them!'' she said in an email.

''Now at the elite level, races are separate, but we do race on the same distances, and I think it shows that women are as much capable of great performances as men.''

The mixed-relay format, in particular, underlines how slight the margins are separating the top men and women.

A male Olympian likely can zip through his relay leg in under 19 minutes and female teammate in about 20 seconds, she said.

The Publishing continues into the future. The World Students Society thanks author Gretchen Reynolds.


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