The world of sport is going through a revolutionary period at the moment. In basketball, we saw Jason Collins become the very first gay NBA player whilst the WNBA’s #1 draft pick Brittney Griner came out and became the first openly gay athlete to be sponsored by Nike. The US Women’s National Team in football had three star players come out (including striker Abby Wambach who married her partner last year) and Michael Sam looked set to be the first gay NFL player before the promising young star was cut from his team.
But for all of these coming outs there are still many places where athletes risk being persecuted for this same honesty. Take Russia for example, where its LGBT propaganda laws prevent people from ‘promoting’ LGBT identities or ‘lifestyles’.
As the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia came under fire for the discriminatory laws, with some asking for a boycott of the event. It also raised concerns that out LGB athletes would be persecuted under the law too but now the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made moves so that this won’t happen in future.
Earlier this week, the IOC voted unanimously to add ‘sexual orientation’ to the list of things that Olympic athletes cannot be discriminated against. The following text has now been added to the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism:
“Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
According to a new 40-page initiative by the IOC, called Agenda 2020, the group is working to “promote the Olympic values” and “strengthen sport in society”. Sadly though, the new ruling is still exclusionary to trans athletes or those who are gender non-conforming.
Athlete Ally, an organisation that is also working to make sports a more inclusive place, noted that this is progress but work still needs to be done. It’s a sort of two step forwards, one step back situation, although it’s unsurprising given that the IOC discriminated against South African athlete Caster Semenya because she’s intersex.
You can read the full Agenda 2020 document at the source link.
Source: International Olympic Committee