The Tokyo Olympics has already put Japan in the limelight because of its delayed schedule, owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, nearly 160 athletes belonging to the LGBTQ community are set to participate in the event. In 2016, the number was at juts 56. The Tokyo Games will also be the first at which openly transgender athletes will compete. From India, sprinter Dutee Chand is the only member form the community to participate at the Tokyo Games. She is India's first openly lesbian athlete.
The host nation is otherwise out of the league of the sweeping social changes the world has undergone concerning LGBTQ inclusivity. Japan is widely known for its advocacy of democracy and human rights. Still, the country has a long way to normalise the sexual identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.
'Delighted See The Progress In Diversity'
The Indian Express quoted Fumino Sugiyama, a former Japanese fencer and a transgender rights activist, saying he was delighted to see the progress in the diversity of the Games. He said that when he was young, sports was very different, and the use of discriminatory language was common. At 10, he began fencing and eventually rose the ranks to participate in international events in the Japanese women's team. He felt a personal conflict in identifying as a woman in competitions and retired at 25 years of age. "I loved the sport of fencing but could not find a place for myself", he said. .
Opportunity To Raise Awareness
The Olympic Charter bans any discrimination. The legal protections for people belonging to the LGBTQ community are not the same, even though Tokyo passed an anti-discrimination bill three years ago. Therefore, the inclusion of athletes from the community is a ray of hope for the activists who wish to use the Games as an opportunity to raise awareness and garner public support for them. Participating countries are going to be a messenger on the same issue. The German women's hockey team Captain will sport a rainbow-coloured armband in all her matches to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Prior permission in this regard had been obtained from the International Olympic Committee to allow her to wear the armband.