The long-awaited 2021 Tokyo Olympics kick off on Friday, following a year’s postponement due to Covid-19. The event will see a record number of openly LGBTQ+ athletes competing, with Outsports reporting that at least 157 of those taking part are members of the queer community.
Outsports also states that this number is not only the highest of the sporting event to date, but it is also greater than all of the previous Summer Olympic games combined. In the 2016 Rio Games, there were allegedly 56 openly queer athletes, while in the 2012 London Games, there were just 23.
The United States leads the way with the most LGBTQ+ athletes at the Games, with around 30 known US queer competitors in attendance. Canada, Great Britain, and the Netherlands all share second place, with each country having 16 LGBTQ+ representatives. Next on the leaderboard is Brazil with 14, then Australia with 12, followed by New Zealand with 10.
Team Ireland has four known openly queer athletes travelling to the Tokyo Olympics. Boxers Kellie Harrington and Michaela Walsh will be joined by marathoner Aoife Cooke, and Taekwondo fighter Jack Woolley.
🔟years ago @michaelaw57 had a dream…
Next month that dream will come true🙌
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) June 14, 2021
Somewhat unsurprisingly, there are significantly more out women in the mix than there are men, with the ratio being about 8-1. Women’s soccer alone boasts roughly 40 LGBTQ+ players, with huge names like Megan Rapinoe, Marta da Silva, and Fran Kirby set to light up the pitch.
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is due to make history this year as the first transgender athlete in the Olympic Games. The 43 year-old will compete in the super-heavyweight 87kg category, having met the IWF eligibility criteria.
Tom Daley is among the openly LGBTQ+ male athletes, as he hopes to add to his Olympic medal collection in the diving event. Other male competitors include Canadian swimmer Markus Thormeyer, New Zealand diver Anton Down-Jenkins, and British race walker Tom Bosworth.
The Tokyo Olympics take place from Friday, July 23, to Sunday, August 8, with an expected 206 nations being represented at the event by over 11,000 athletes.
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