Women first took part in the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, four years after the first Olympic Games of the modern era in Athens. Despite the reticence of the reviver of the modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin, 22 women out of a total of 997 athletes competed in just five sports: tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrian and golf with golf and tennis having events for women only.
Female participation has increased steadily since then, with women accounting for more than 44 per cent of the participants at the 2012 Games in London, compared with 23 per cent at the Games in 1984 in Los Angeles and just over 13 per cent at the 1964 Games in Tokyo.
In the last 20 years, the IOC has also increased the number of women’s events on the Olympic program, in cooperation with the International Federations (IFs) and the Organizing Committees. With the addition of woman’s boxing, the 2012 Olympic Games in London were the first in which women competed in every sport on the Olympic program.
In Rio 2016, 45 per cent of the athletes are women and girls, a record number of female athletes competing at the Games (around 4.7 thousand athletes). Team New Zealand, Australia and Finland amongst many others entering more female athletes than male athletes. Team USA was the National Olympic Committee with the biggest number of female athletes at the Rio Olympic Games they bring a total of 292 female athletes to the Rio2016 Olympics.
Photos - Courtesy of the Portuguese Athletics Federation and Rio 2016 Facebook pages.