Unity in Diversity: IOC emphasises inclusion in sport during LGBTQ Pride Month

02 Jun 2021
IOC News

With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month having started on 1 June, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has once again emphasised the importance of inclusion and non-discrimination in sport and in society.

Unity in diversity

“Practising sport, without discrimination of any kind, is a human right and a Fundamental Principle of the Olympic Movement,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “We believe in the power of sport to build bridges between people and communities. The Olympic Games unite the whole world in peaceful competition and solidarity without any kind of discrimination.”

Inclusion, diversity and equality are all integral components of the work of the IOC, with non-discrimination being one of the founding pillars of the Olympic Movement, which is reflected in the Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principle 4: “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 approving an Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation to amend 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 IOC’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion was also underlined in the recent approval of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 – the new strategic roadmap of the Olympic Movement – which recognises that gender equality, inclusion and diversity are integral components of fulfilling the IOC’s vision of building a peaceful and better world through sport.

Diversity and inclusion embedded into Olympic Games planning and delivery

The IOC has also moved to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause of the Host City 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.

This approach will be visible during the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, as the Organising Committee has embraced “Unity in Diversity” as one of its core concepts. The aim is to deliver Games that underline the importance of diversity and unity, and help foster a society that accepts and respects differences. As such, diversity and inclusion have been incorporated into all aspects of Games planning and operations. 

One aspect of this is the establishment of Pride House Tokyo by non-profit organisation Good Aging Yells, providing Japan’s first permanent LGBTQ support centre. The opening of the centre follows a concept that has been present in some form at every Games since Vancouver 2010 and aims to promote the understanding of LGBTQ and other sexual minorities while serving as a safe space that welcomes LGBTQ athletes, their families and fans.

“On behalf of the International Olympic Committee, I wish to extend my sincere congratulations for the opening of the Pride House Tokyo,” said President Bach during the opening in October last year. “In sport, we are all equal. There is no discrimination. We are united in all our diversity. This is also the spirit which transpires in the Olympic Village, where athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team live together in harmony under one roof. We therefore welcome that Tokyo 2020 has embedded diversity and inclusion in the Olympic Games model. The Pride House Tokyo is an important example for this. It is in this Olympic spirit of unity, solidarity and diversity that I wish the Pride House Tokyo success and a long-lasting legacy as part of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

During her visit to Pride House Tokyo, Tokyo 2020 President HASHIMOTO Seiko said: “As the Organising Committee welcomes athletes from all over the world, we will gain a clear understanding of ‘diversity and inclusion’ and we will work together with everyone to create a Games of ‘diversity and inclusion’.”

Ensuring safe and fair competition for athletes

As part of its commitment to inclusion across the Olympic Movement, the IOC is also working on a new framework to ensure fairness, safety and non-discrimination of athletes on the basis of gender identity and sex characteristics.

To that effect, the IOC has run a consultation process to consider not only medical, scientific and legal perspectives, but also that of human rights, with an emphasis on the views and experiences of affected athletes.

This consultation process will be instrumental in the development of the new framework, which will acknowledge the differences that exist between different sports in order to find suitable mechanisms, policies and approaches to ensure inclusion, non-discrimination, fairness, proportionality and safety for all athletes in each sport.

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