Call it the shameful act of politics, gender bias or ego that Japan’s world champion women footballers had to fly coach class (premium economy) and their male counterparts were treated business class specials! While the nation expects Nadeshiko Japan to get them the coveted gold in the London Olympics, team veteran Homare Sawa feels that the treatment meted should have been the other way around. After all Sawa is the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and this is her fourth and possibly the final Olympics that she participates in.
Sources say that the Japanese Olympic Committee allocated economy class seats to London-bound Japanese Olympians. Exceptions were made in the cases of big-built athletes who will participate in judo and other such sports. Interestingly, star athletes always manage to get one of their sponsors to upgrade them to business or first class. The Japan Football Association was in a way responsible for the men to get better seats, especially after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in light of their full professional status.
The saving grace is that the association upgraded the women’s tickets to premium economy, which is a shade better than coach. You may wonder why there is such a big fuss about the seat and travel class. Well the distance from Tokyo to London is huge, and besides adding a good chunk to any frequent-flier miles, it’s the whole experience of being pampered and looked after mid-air, that one wants. Besides service and food, it’s the quality of seats that make the biggest difference. The recline angle and foot rest is an added comfort that frequent fliers will vouch for. Hopefully after their smashing victory in the London Games, the Nadeshiko champs will fly back home in first class, dignity, glory and honor intact!