Olympian Tom Daley has spoken out about the importance of being an out athlete after being targeted in anti-LGBT+ commentary on Russian state TV.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently criticised Russia’s state-run TV channels for their vile homophobic and transphobic coverage of the Tokyo Olympic Games. One state-owned channel, Rossiya 1, particularly targeted Daley and trailblazing trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, the BBC reported.
One of the panellists, a member of the Russian parliament, said he was “disgusted” by gay and trans people. He shouted that “we” strongly oppose “all this smut and perversion” and described LGBT+ people as an “abomination”.
Daley, who has won gold and bronze medals at the Tokyo games, said he “had no idea” about the disgusting attack when questioned by reporters, the Evening Standard reported. He explained that he has been in a “bubble” while competing and that athletes “don’t really see anything” when “we’re at the Olympics”.
“History shows that everything that society is has been dictated from the straight, white, male experience,” Daley added. “If we could come together and use different points of view, the world would be a better place.”
Daley told reporters that he feels “extremely lucky” to be representing Great Britain and not a country where LGBT+ people face criminalisation and even death sentences.
“There are 10 countries that are competing at these Olympic Games where being LGBT is punishable by death,” the diver explained.
He continued: “I feel extremely lucky to be representing Team GB, to be able to stand on the diving board as myself with a husband and a son and not worry about any ramifications.
“But I know that I’m very fortunate to have that and that there are lots of people who grow up around the world with less fortunate situations.
“I just hope that seeing out sportspeople in all these different sports is going to help people feel less alone, feel like they are valued and can achieve something.”
Britain’s Tom Daley competes in the preliminary round of the men’s 10m platform diving. (OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
An IOC spokesman told the BBC that they were contacting the official Russian broadcaster to express their concern about the anti-LGBT+ coverage.
“Discrimination has absolutely no place in the Olympic Games,” the IOC said in a statement.
Tom Daley is among a record-breaking number of LGBT+ athletes at the 2020 Olympics
According to OutSports, there were at least 182 out LGBT+ athletes competing at this year’s games. This is more than three times the number of openly LGBT+ athletes who participated in the 2016 Rio games.
The sports publication has also been dedicatedly tracking the number of medals accrued by all the queer Olympians. OutSports explained it would be tracking these elite competitors as though they were “on one team representing one country” and dubbed the group “Team LGBTQ”.
After the closing ceremony Sunday (8 August), OutSports reported that Team LGBTQ ranked seventh overall in the final standing medal count. It said this would place the all-queer athletic team just ahead of the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy.