A Japanese nonprofit group is preparing to set up a hospitality venue for LGBT athletes and fans during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to boost diversity at the events.
“We want to leave a legacy by opening up the world of sports (to diversity) at the Tokyo Olympics,” Gon Matsunaka, the 41-year-old founder and head of Good Aging Yells, said Wednesday.
The group, which supports the LGBT community through activities, is considering organizing educational sessions and sporting events to help people deepen their understanding of LGBT issues, and may collaborate with Olympic organizers and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Similar spaces for LGBT athletes and fans called Pride Houses have been set up in cities hosting international sporting events since the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, but none have been set up in Japan.
The venue envisioned by Tokyo-based Good Aging Yells is likely to come under the spotlight as one of the drivers for social change at the Tokyo Games.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited by the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Charter. In Japan, firms have begun actively supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and politicians are trying to enact legislation banning discrimination against them.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, at least 41 openly LGBT athletes participated, including Rafaela Silva, Brazil’s 57-kg gold medalist in judo. The IOC has also been promoting the rights of LGBT athletes.
About 1 in every 13 people is believed to be LGBT in Japan, according to a 2015 nationwide survey conducted by advertisement agency Dentsu Inc. that covered 70,000 people. But openly LGBT athletes remain rare in the country.