The Olympics Games are taking up the entire informational space on the Internet. Just like any other event of global interest, the Tokyo Olympics is a way for athletes from around the world to shine in front of a broad audience. And as the eyes of the world are turned towards the Olympics arena, modern society has been wondering if these new games could oversee tradition and allow LGBTQ athletes and supporters to protect and claim their rights. Prior to the 2021 contest began, viewers were wondering ‘Will this year’s Olympics deem itself as the first ‘Diversity’ Olympics?’
LGBTQ representation at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics
And clearly, it did. The 2021 Games have reported the greatest number of participants who are “out” as members of the LGBTQ community – 168 people. 27 different countries have at least one representative from the community. Women account for 49% of the 11,090 athletes that participated in the games. These numbers are incredible to say the least. Together, all of the facts make the 2021 Olympic Games a massive celebration of diversity and pride. But is it also a celebration of legal acceptance of human rights and equality?
Just five weeks before the games, the Japanese government disappointed many around the world by declining the bill that claimed all discrimination against LGBTQ people to be against the law. This failure was even more discouraging because of the earlier promise of the Games’ organisers to base the contest around the concept of “Unity in Diversity”. When the host country made such a decision, it clearly violated the rules of the Olympics that were set to move the contest towards the values of the modern age and protect the safety of those whose rights are so often overlooked.
Gon Matsunaka, the leader of Pride House Tokyo, the community that promotes and advocates for LGBTQ rights in Japan, was disheartened by the government’s decision:
“The Olympic Charter clearly bans discrimination. [Declining this bill] is a breach of the contract with the International Olympic Committee.”
In some ways, many traditional worldwide events have something in common. The Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Booker prize, Olympic Games – no matter the theme and sphere of interest, these worldwide events all find it difficult to step onto the path of innovation. Among these, the latter has had the hardest missteps. The first traditional Olympic games were held in 1896, but women were only allowed to participate almost one hundred years later, in 1972. Not long ago, and for many athletes from certain countries, members of the LGTBQ community had and continue to have difficulties being accepted at the contest.
Despite the traditional views of the host country’s government, there are no boundaries to progress in diversity at the Olympics. In fact, the Olympic Games 2021 is the most LGBTQ positive games in the history of the contest. But legally, can we see this as the winning, or just the next case of ignorance towards the rights of minorities?