- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

TOKYO (AP) - Rowing’s governing body has voted to drop the lightweight men’s four class from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic program despite opposition from Asian countries including China.

The world body, known as FISA, said Saturday it wanted to introduce the women’s four class to promote gender equality.

Still, several Asian countries objected to downgrading the status of lightweight rowing before the FISA favored option passed in a 94-67 vote.

If the IOC approves the proposal in July, the 14 rowing events in Tokyo will have seven medal classes each for men and women.

The FISA proposal was the “only one that has a realistic chance of being accepted by the IOC Executive Board,” delegates were told during the debate in Tokyo.

Opponents included China and Switzerland, which won gold in lightweight men’s four at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last August.

The proposed women’s four was won at the 2016 world championships by Britain with the United States taking silver.

In a further move toward gender equality, FISA decided that men or women should be allowed to cox either a men’s or women’s crew.

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