The History Of Women’s Participation In The Summer Olympics In Water Polo For The Period (2000-2022)

Ibero-American Journal of Exercise and Sports Psychology

Full Length Research Article - (2022) Volume 17, Issue 6

The History Of Women’s Participation In The Summer Olympics In Water Polo For The Period (2000-2022)

Wafaa Hussein Abdulameer1*, Zahiah Sabah Abdulsalam2 and Jamal Sakran Hamza3
*Correspondence: Wafaa Hussein Abdulameer, College of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Baghdad, Iraq, Email:
1College of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Baghdad, Iraq
2College of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Baghdad, Iraq
3College of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Baghdad, Iraq

Received: 01-Dec-2022 Accepted: 21-Dec-2022 Published: 21-Dec-2022


The purpose of this paper is to knowing the history of women's participation in the ancient Olympic games, Knowing the reasons for the delay in including women in participating in water polo, and Knowing the results of women's Olympic competitions in water polo. Water polo is part of the program of the Second Summer Olympics in Paris in 1900. After 100 years, women were allowed to compete in this game. In addition, that some sports require high effort, physical strength, endurance and friction, which we notice in water polo, prevented them from participating in some games, including water polo. The ancient Greeks excluded women from the Olympic competition and even prevented them from participating in the games. The inaugural games were held in Athens in 1896 before a band of men only. Swimming was included as one of the events, the first official acknowledgment of the opening of the Women's Olympic Games. In 1934, the first Olympic participation for women was in 2000


Sports psychology. Sports exercise. Summer olympics


Although men's water polo originated in the late nineteenth century, it is one of the oldest team sports and became part of the program of the second Summer Olympics in Paris in 1900. Then, nineteen Olympics held in various countries of the world, the first Olympic women's water polo tournament took place in (Ryde Aquatic Leisure Center, Ryde) in Australia in 2000. That is, after 100 years of Olympic competitions in water polo, women were allowed to enter the competitions of this game and games The first Olympic When we talk about it, it is worth noting that its origin goes back to 776 BC (until 394 AD), and that women, considered sensitive, weak and emotional, were not only excluded from participation, but even were not allowed to be spectators. And that "women were prevented from competing, or, from observing the ancient Olympic Games, albeit with rare exceptions," and that "we begin with the history of women's sport in the nineteenth or early twentieth century is to begin after what Thomas Lacour called "the discovery of the sexes," In a period of time when men and women were seen, as different as possible from one another physiologically and psychologically. The sexist view of the difference prevailing in the nineteenth century and included, in ways related to their potential participation in sports, that men were and should be strong and activists but women were and should be sensitive, and thus, recent history often views sport as beginning at a time when women were seen at least fit to participate in sport" (Hamza, L. D. J. S., & Ahmed, Z. S. 2020)

Although some sports require high effort, physical strength, endurance and friction, which is what we notice in water polo, it is a big problem, as well as some physiological formation and monthly health requirements for women prevented them from participating in some games, including water polo and entering the swimming pool.Therefore, the importance of the research lies in the researchers' attempt to study women's water polo, a historical study in the Olympic Games.

Research objective:

• Knowing the history of women's participation in the ancient Olympic Games.

• Knowing the reasons for delaying the inclusion of women in participating in the water polo game

• Knowing the results of the women's Olympic water polo competitions

History of women's participation in the Olympic Games:

"The ancient Olympic Games, held between 776 BC and 393 BC, were a religious sports festival that was carried out every four years in Olympia in honor of Zeus. It was the most important of all the Greek games, after Emperor Theodosius I, who considered the games a pagan cult, banned it. Only Men and boys are permitted to participate in this sporting event" (Nunes, R. A. 2019).

Throughout history, women's participation in sports has always been a problem. The ancient Greeks excluded women from Olympic competition and even banned them from participating in the Games. Later, the women founded their own Olympics, which was held one month before the regular Olympics and called the Hirayan Games. Women in Sparta were encouraged from an early age to take part in sports activities, such as running, jumping and javelin throwing, because it was felt that this sport would make them better nannies. There were others who felt that sport would build character, tenacity, strength, and respect for authority. Because these traits were considered irrelevant to women, there was no need for them to be involved in sports. (Plowden, M. W. 1996)".

"The birth of the modern Olympic movement came in 1894 with the creation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), led by Pierre de Coubertin and as a result of de Coubertin's efforts, the inaugural Games were held in Athens in 1896. A total of 33 events across nine sports were contested by a squad. Men only Swimming was included as one of the foundational events held during the Games premiere, however, only men were allowed to compete for medals in four events: 100m freestyle, 500m freestyle, 1200m freestyle, and 100m freestyle. Freestyle (open only) - Women were barred from participating in the inaugural Olympics because the modern Olympic movement was meant to embody and celebrate male sport Coubertin's vision and values were shared by many of his contemporaries at the time, unleashing decades of discrimination against women from for an extended era in the history of modern games" (Hill, L., & Grand'Maison, V. 2017).

"At the beginning of the creation of the modern Olympics, women were ideologically and structurally excluded from the world. This is a sad and historical mistake. Over the past 120 years, the vigorous pursuit of sporting rights and the beautiful yearning for the Olympic Games have prompted vigilant women to penetrate the Olympic Games and put an end to the history of male dominance in the Olympic Games. Generation after generation of female athletes and feminists has raised aloft the banner of "women's entry into the Olympics, comprehensively influenced the male system of the Olympics, and finally competed for all the major events." The number and number of minor events is essentially equal to the number of men, but they also paid a heavy price at the expense of female characteristics" (Ma, X. 2021).

And "the development of women's sport worldwide is mostly due to the participation of women in the Olympic Games, and to the fact that the International Olympic Committee recognized the equality of women and men in the sporting field at a time when this equality was far from being universal." (Mitchell, S. 2012).

Women's Participation in the Olympic Games "At the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, all events were men's events, women were strictly prohibited from participating, and the ancient Greek Olympics tradition was completely inherited, although 19, 8, and 36 women participated in unofficial events. (such as archery), the International Olympic Committee did not recognize it.At the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, and despite the fact that there were 65 female athletes on the field, Coubertin still insisted that women's participation in the Olympics was illegal and insisted on expelling Women from the Olympic field The Committee initially adopted a resolution allowing "women to participate in the Olympic Games" at the plenary session in Paris.

It is the first official recognition of the opening of the Women's Olympic Games. Ten years later, in 1934, skating, fencing, gymnastics, swimming, and track and field became official women's events at the Athens plenary session of the International Olympic Committee. In 1975, 50 years later, the International Olympic Committee first proclaimed the principle of "gender equality" (Ma, X. 2021).

The measure of "women's participation in the Olympic Games" took 50 years (1896-1956) from zero women in the first Olympic Games to 10% of the total number of athletes; The ratio increased from 10% to 20%, and took 20 years (1956-1976); The percentage increased from 20% to 30%, which took 20 years (1976-1996); It took eight years (1996-2004) for the percentage to rise from 30% to 40%. At the 2012 London Olympics, the proportion of women rose to 44%. Of the 10,568 athletes, 5,892 were men, which equals the total volume of the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968; 4,675 women, equal to the total size of the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games" (Ma, X. 2021) as shows in the figure 1 (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Shows the percentage of women participating in the Olympics.

The reasons for the delay in the inclusion of women in participating in the game of water polo.

"Men's water polo was the first team sport at the Olympics, and since then it has continued to grow in popularity. Because swimming and throwing are combined, and water polo is a contact sport, injuries in water polo are not uncommon. These athletes do not swim thousands of meters Not only do they pass and shoot a ball slightly larger than a volleyball (slightly smaller for women), at high speeds, without the benefit of a stable support base.It has been determined that during each game, a water polo player swims about 1,000m of forward crawl, depending on his position or role in the game. Compared to competing swimmers who swim one distance without interruption" (Brooks, J. M. (1999).

Women practiced mostly elegant sports, some even called "polite" such as tennis, croquet, cycling, snowboarding or golf. The women of the aristocracy also devoted some of their time to equestrian sports and sailing. Do not play sports that require physical exertion (Like sports ball games in general, water polo requires a combination of strength, speed, stamina as well as a high level of technique/skill, tactical ability, dexterity, and fighting ability. However, all movements must be performed in an exotic environment that requires special training. This is why a 4-5 year swimming training program is necessary before starting to train in water polo regularly. Therefore, higher-level players have a very long history of sports training. Playing water polo requires more physical strength than other ball games. During the match, there is direct contact between a Person and another. Players hold each other and often engage in wrestling, intervention and wrestling activity. To develop their fighting abilities, players engage in regular strength training for 6-10 hours in the first week Since the elements of the locomotor system are less susceptible to injuries in the water, sessions can take Training takes much longer than other dry ball games It seems that due to the extremely arduous nature of water polo, it is reasonable for the players to have high stamina. However, due to the complexity of the game and the unusual environment, interpretation of commonly used dryland working capacity estimates (for example, a treadmill or bicycle accelerometer) for athletic physical condition is problematic for water polo players) (Pavlik, G. et al,.2005). This was a hindrance due to the idea that this sport requires great skin and strength and the fact that men have more strength than women and control in the pool as well as possession of the ball strong friction that requires strength in scoring and swimming to the goal without hindrance.

Water polo is a popular sport all over the world. It is a very dynamic and fast-paced multiplayer game that richly belongs to the multi-structure sports category of action. Water polo is a sport characterized by many complex and dynamic motor activities, which are then characterized by either a periodic or a periodic movement. It is a full contact sport, and at the speed of the growing sport in the world, characterized by different intensities of swimming, acceleration and deceleration, in water polo, the highest scores can only be achieved under conditions of a well-programmed training process. Highquality management of the training process depends on knowledge of the structure of some anthropological abilities and the characteristics of water polo players, as well. (Gardasevic, J. et al,. 2020).

It was recognized that the Gender Equality Commission of the Australian Water Polo Association (AWPI) was the dominant force in this process and with the full support of the IAP Executive Director; she successfully lobbied the FINA members. Leanne Barnes was the prime mover and many of the events that followed this kind of equity plan were crucial to women's water polo becoming an Olympic sport. Water polo has always been a strong contender on the grounds of gender equality. " (Sides, A. J. 2000) .

The big news in water polo for the year 2000 was that women's water polo was finally on the Olympic program. Women have participated in water polo at the World Championships since 1986 and in the European Championships since 1985, although the Women's World Cup was held in 1979. The United States has held national women's water polo tournaments since 1962. "Women's water polo was not easily accepted into the Olympic Games, thanks to two Australian ladies, Lianne Barnes and Pat Jones. Women's water polo became popular in Australia in the 1960s and in 1976 they sent a team to compete in the United States National Championship, the first competition Effective international In 1994, the Australian Water Polo Incorporated (AWPI) formed a Commission for Gender Equality headed by Barnes. At the top of their wish list was the entry of women's sport into the Olympics. In 1993, FINA made adding women's water polo its number one priority to the Olympic program as well as adding the women's competition to the Olympic program is largely due to the daily protests organized by the Austrian women's national team during the 1999 IOC meeting in Melbourne" (Snyder, P. 2008).

Australian women also played a crucial role in forcing the International Olympic Committee to include women's water polo in the Olympic Games. The decision is special and poignant, because, with the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney approaching, Australia will be on display to the world. It is a credit to those from the Australian Olympic Organizing Committee, the International Olympic Committee, FINA and the media that women's water polo has been included in the Games program after fluctuations between organizations, blame and legal action loomed. (

Results and Discussion

Results of women's Olympic water polo:

Through Tables 1, 2 and Figure 2 (Chart) of the medals, and through the results shown, the following becomes clear (Tables 1, 2 and Figure 2).

Table 1:Shows the results of the Olympic competitions for the participating teams.

Olympic session Place Team number Gold Silver Bronze
2000 Sydney, Australia 6 Australia United State Russia
2004 Athens, Greece 8 Italia Greece United State
2008 Beijing, China 8 Holland United State Australia
2012 London, UK 8 United State Spain Australia
2016 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 8 United State Italia Russia
2020 Tokyo, Japan 10 United State Spain Hungary

Table 2: Shows the Indicates the number and type of medals among the competitors.

Country Number  of medals Gold Silver Bronze
United State 6 3 2 1
Australia 3 1   2
Russia 2     2
Spain 2   2  
Italia 2 1 1  
Greece 1   1  
Hungary 1     1
Holland 1 1    

Figure 2: The graphs show the results of the participating teams.

1. The United States: is presented with six medals, divided (three gold), (two silver) and (one bronze).

"Water polo originated in the United States and the Kingdom in the late nineteenth century and is one of the oldest sports teams of the modern Olympic Games. Although the first women's water polo match was held in 1906 only in Haarlem, the Netherlands, it was developed after the 1960s in Europe, Australia, and the United States, obtaining the first edition of the official World Championships and the 1986 and 2000 Olympic Games, respectively. Women's water polo in the United States has grown significantly and has achieved due success in international competitions, such as winning gold medals in 2003 Barcelona, 2007 Melbourne, and 2009 Rome World Championships and podiums in 2000 Sydney (silver medal), 2004 Athens (bronze medal), and 2008 Beijing (silver medal) Olympic Games. (Lupo, al,. 2011).

In 1978, American Water Polo was founded, the national governing body for water polo in the USA. The organization was originally governed by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) with help from the YMCA, and was formed after the passing of a federal law designating the Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games USA Water Polo as the coordinating body for all Olympic activities in the US Based on a volunteer structure, USA Water Polo moved to a more formal institutional model in 2006 in line with reforms endorsed by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. USA Water Polo is a member organization It has nearly 500 high-performance club programs across America, and 50,000 active participants annually. The organization hosts a variety of national club service tournaments, including the Junior Olympics, Masters Nationals, and the US Open Water Polo Championships (currently men's and women's adult), Champions Cup, Rock-tober PCA 12 & Under Classic and more. The US Open water polo tournament, which was Formerly known as the National Indoor and Outdoor Championships, along with the Junior Olympics, the two oldest membership events were initiated at the time of Al Ain University governance. USA Water Polo's mission includes managing the US men's and women's Olympic water polo teams and the pipeline to develop future athletes for the Olympic Games. To this end, USA Water Polo launched a formal Olympic Development Program in 2009. The program serves nearly 3,500 athletes from across the United States, who are introduced to high performance methods and can be selected to participate in elite-level training and competition opportunities. Some of these athletes are selected to join the junior, cadet, development, and youth national teams by virtue of their participation in the ODP Championship and national team selection camp events. USA Water Polo has a high-performance division, which collects and shares information to help each club and athlete realize their potential through sport. The High Performance Group shares learning from Olympic and International competition with clubs, athletes, coaches and officials through a proprietary Team USA app and owned YouTube channel. USA Water Polo is also a member of the Positive Training Alliance and the US Olympic Committee "Safe Sport," both of which are designed to provide encouragement to athletes in a safe environment. USA Water Polo also maintains a Hall of Fame, honouring the greats in the community, which was founded in 1976 and renovated in 2010, and holds an induction annually. In 2009, the organization launched Splashball, a program designed to introduce water polo and water safety to children aged 5-9 years.) (

2. Australia: The Australian women's team won the 1984 World Cup in Los Angeles, USA, and the inaugural World Championship in Madrid, Spain in 1986. In 1995, the team once again reached the pinnacle by winning the World Cup in Sydney, Australia, defeating five-time defending champions Netherlands in the final the golden medal. In late 1997, a breakthrough in the women's game occurred with the inclusion of the women's competition in the program of the 2000 Olympic Games. In the 14 months after the 1998 World Championships, women won four international tournaments in which they competed in the Netherlands, Italy, the United States and Hungary. They then went on to win the silver medal at the 1999 World Cup in Winnipeg, Canada. At the Sydney Olympics, Australia only lost one match, to the Netherlands, on their way to securing the historic Olympic gold medal. This victory motivated the nation in the way it was won. ( In addition, obtaining the gold medal in the competition, and this indicates the progress of Australia in the game, and this is what indicates to him from inside Australia, sources indicate that the water polo game in Australia was played for the first time in 1892 on Cockatoo Dry Island (Sides, A. J. 2000).


1. The difficulty of accepting women and their participation in the Olympic Games, in the past and in modern times, due to the belief that women are weak.

2. Because of the temperature and the requirements of physical strength and endurance, and what the water polo game needs in terms of friction and special conditions in reaching the goal, scoring points and dribbling in the water, and because of the women's monthly health condition and special clothing, the delay in their admission to the game

3. The control of the United States of America in this game due to the huge number of trainees and the preparation of the game's requirements from the basins, as well as the appropriate climate for it


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