Unity in diversity: how the Olympic Games foster inclusion

During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month, which is being celebrated around the world in June, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is highlighting how the Olympic Games are a powerful platform to foster inclusion, diversity and non-discrimination, and where athletes and Olympic Partners have inspired the world through powerful messages.

P&G P&G
  • During recent Olympic Games, athletes shared messages on inclusion that inspired the world
  • Universality, inclusion and non-discrimination have always been central values of the Olympic Games, also reflected in the Olympic Charter and Olympic Agenda 2020+5
  • Olympic Partners Coca-Cola and P&G are among those who celebrated unity in diversity at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Athletes driving the change

When British diver Tom Daley won gold at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, he revealed how, as an openly gay athlete, he hoped his achievements would help inspire young people around the world who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“When I was younger, I always felt like I was the one who was alone and different and didn’t fit in, and there was something about me that was never going to be as good as society wanted me to be,” he said, after topping the podium in the 10m synchro event alongside Matty Lee.

Tom Daley and Matty Lee at Tokyo 2020 Getty Images

"I hope that any young LGBTQ+ person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now you are not alone. You can achieve anything. And there’s a whole lot of your chosen family out here to support you. I feel incredibly proud to say that I’m a gay man and also an Olympic champion. I feel very empowered by that.”

Daley’s words and achievements have already had an impact, with 17-year-old British footballer Jake Daniels citing the diver’s “courage and determination to drive change” as one of the inspirations behind his own decision to come out publicly last month. And by speaking with pride on the global stage provided by the Olympic Games, Daley, like the many other LGBTQ+ athletes to have competed at the Games, is sure to have inspired countless more people just like Daniels.

And it wasn’t just LGBTQ+ athletes who were highlighting the inclusiveness of sport and the Olympic Games, with South African skateboarder Dallas Oberholzer speaking about the diversity seen in his own sport, which was making its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Dallas Oberholzer at Tokyo 2020 Getty Images

“We don’t really care how old or young you are, or your sexual preferences,” he said. “Skateboarding is such a progressive, pioneering lifestyle. It’s all about accepting others, and it just doesn’t matter your personal choices in life. You come and play, and you put your things down and that's it. We all bring something different. And that's what skateboarding is – diversity – but we're still integrated."

The Olympic Games: a platform to foster inclusion

By offering a level playing field for all, the Olympic Games have long provided a powerful platform to promote inclusion, diversity and equality. Indeed, non-discrimination is one of the founding pillars of the Olympic Movement, reflected in the Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principle 4, which states: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

In 2014, the IOC further strengthened its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community in particular by amending the Olympic Charter to specifically include non-discrimination with regard to sexual orientation in Fundamental Principle 6, which now states: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

The recent approval of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 – the new strategic roadmap of the Olympic Movement – also recognised that gender equality, inclusion and diversity are integral components of fulfilling the IOC’s vision of building a peaceful and better world through sport.

In addition, the IOC has also included sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause of the Olympic Host Contract for the Olympic Games, requiring all host cities to respect the Fundamental Principles and values of Olympism, in particular the prohibition of any form of discrimination, throughout their entire Games project.

Olympic Partners Coca-Cola and P&G promoting inclusion

That unity in diversity, which is so evident at the Olympic Games, was also celebrated during Tokyo 2020 through a joint campaign run by the IOC and Worldwide Olympic Partner Coca-Cola, which aimed to show how everyone is welcome within the Olympic Movement.

Focusing on the key values of diversity and inclusion, the “I Belong Here” initiative aimed at inspiring a new generation with the belief that, no matter who they are or where they come from, they can find their place in the Olympic community.

In addition, Coca-Cola supported Pride House Tokyo – an information centre and events venue that was established by non-profit organisation Good Aging Yells ahead of the Games, providing Japan’s first permanent LGBTQ+ support centre.

Since the Olympic Games, Pride House Tokyo has been offering a series of seminars to sporting bodies and hosting events to continue to raise awareness of the matter. Earlier this month, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) signed a framework agreement with the LGBTQ hub Pride House Tokyo to promote inclusiveness in the sporting world.

P&G was another Worldwide Olympic Partner to use the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to promote equality and inclusion, launching a documentary-style film series co-created with the IOC entitled “Good is Gold”. It told the moving, real-life stories of four Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls who have taken action against bias and inequality. During the Games, P&G also hosted a virtual panel discussion on the importance of equal representation in sport, which highlighted how LGBTQ+ athletes can give a powerful sense of visibility to the wider LGBTQ+ community when they compete on the Olympic stage.

 


During that discussion, Brent Miller, Senior Director and Global LGBTQ+ Equality Programme Leader at P&G, spoke about the impact that Olympic athletes like Daley can have when they speak about inclusion and equal representation on such a global stage.

“For these athletes to be so open, honest and authentically who they are, they’re treading a path that is having a profound impact on people’s lives all around the world,” he said. “P&G has been a part of the Olympic Games and a partner of the IOC for a very long time, and we do that because of what we think sport and the Olympics stand for. It’s about bringing people together, supporting people, creating mutual understanding, and really celebrating all of humanity.”

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