An excellent move by the government of South Australia:
The Tour Down Under has made the decision to replace its podium girls with junior cyclists, according to the Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC). The call comes after the South Australian government withdrew its support of the use of models on the podium in a drive to improve body image.
The government also removed funding the grid girls at the Adelaide Clipsal 500 motor car race.
“The Government’s paying for grid girls at the same time we’re putting money into mental health areas to help young women who have body image problems,” said South Australia Sports Minister Leon Bignell, who, according to the ABC, has been the driving force behind the move.
“What we actually want to do is inspire girls and young women who come to the motor racing to be car drivers or to be mechanics or to be engineers.”
Podium girls have long been a feature of the post-race podium presentations. However, there have been increasingly more calls to change the protocols, with some believing it is archaic, and there have been some controversial moments.
In 2013, Peter Sagan got himself into hot water when he pinched the bottom of one of the podium girls after the Tour of Flanders – he later apologised. Two years later, there was furore caused by podium girls being forced to wear bikinis for the women’s Flanders Diamond Tour. [Cycling News]
As with the technology events where ‘booth girls’ still feature, podium girls in cycling are an embarrassing hold-over from what should be a long-forgotten age. There are more than enough people of all ages and genders for whom the job of handing over prizes on the podium can be a great way to acknowledge their achievements and encourage future achievements.