July 27, 2021, New York, US
(Updated September 5, 2021)
NEW YORK – Out Leadership, the premier global network for LGBTQ+ business leaders and companies, today unveiled “Visibility Counts: LGBTQ+ Equality and the Tokyo Olympics 2020,” a paper outlining the state of LGBTQ+ visibility at the 2020 Olympics and how global businesses are supporting LGBTQ+ athletes and LGBTQ+ equality.
The 2020 Summer Olympics which started in Tokyo this month, after being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is seeing the largest number of out LGBTQ+ athletes of any Olympics. With at least 163 out LGBTQ+ athletes, including the first two out transgender athletes, visibility for LGBTQ+ people at the Games is at an all-time high, with nearly three times the number of out LGBTQ+ athletes competing than at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Only 13 years ago, less than 0.2% of athletes at the Olympic Games were openly LGB. A statistical aberration and an unmistakable sign of pervasive discrimination in the identification, selection, and preparation of LGBTQ+ athletes everywhere,” says Fabrice Houdart, Managing Director, Global Advocacy Initiatives, Out Leadership.
These Olympics also mark a turning point for trans visibility. This is the first year, since guidelines were changed in 2004 to allow trans competitors, that out trans athletes will be participating. Laurel Hubbard, the New Zealand weightlifter, will start her Olympic quest in the women’s +87kg weightlifting division on August 2, as the first trans woman to qualify to compete and meet the strict guidelines established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Quinn, who became the first trans, non-binary person to compete at an Olympics when they appeared with the Canadian women’s soccer team on July 21, faced no restrictions from the IOC, which only restricts male to female competitors.
The importance of visibility in sports cannot be underestimated. LGBTQ+ visibility at the Olympics and at elite levels helps LGBTQ+ people be seen and provides role models for LGBTQ+ youth.
Beth Brooke, US Olympics Committee and Out Leadership Board Advisor, says: “We need more Out LGBTQ athletes like Carl Nassib, the first openly gay, active player in the NFL, to be visible role models for aspiring young LGBTQ athletes. Many still feel unsafe in sports, especially with the political attacks on transgender athletes.”
The 2020 Olympics are taking place amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with athletes and support staff continue to test positive for the virus after arriving in Japan.
2020 Tokyo Paralympics also breaks ground with LGBTQ+ visibility
The 2020 Paralympics, held August 24-September 5, 2021, also broke ground for LGBTQ+ visibility with an estimated 36 out LGBTQ+ athletes representing at least 9 countries. This sets a new high bar for LGBTQ+ representation, up from an estimated 12 LGBTQ+ athletes at the previous Paralympics.
About Out Leadership
Out Leadership is the oldest and largest global LGBTQ+ business advisory that partners with the world’s most influential companies to build business opportunities, cultivate talent, and drive LGBTQ+ equality forward. We believe that LGBTQ+ inclusion positively impacts business results, and that including LGBTQ+ people at the most senior level of executive leadership builds business. We call this idea Return on Equality™.
Comprising more than 80 global member firms and dedicated to cross-industry collaboration, Out Leadership is a certified B Corporation. Out Leadership convenes CEOs, business leaders, and allies at exclusive invitation-only events across 4 continents. Out Leadership also operates three talent initiatives: Quorum, which aims to increase LGBTQ+ representation on corporate boards; OutNEXT, the first global talent development program for emerging LGBTQ+ leaders; and OutWOMEN, connecting senior-level LGBTQ+ women in business.