National

LGBT hospitality house to be established for 2020 Tokyo Games

by Sarah Suk

Staff Writer

An LGBT hospitality house will be set up during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as a place to exchange and distribute information about issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A consortium, made up of 28 organizations and individuals so far, is behind the Pride House Tokyo project, said Gon Matsunaka, founder and president of an LGBT support group called Good Aging Yells, on Thursday. The location has yet to be determined.

Matsunaka, who represents the consortium, said the practice of organizing a space for LGBT athletes and fans in Olympic host cities began with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. He said the upcoming Tokyo Games will be a good opportunity to collaborate with the sports industry to inform people in Japan and around the world about LGBT issues.

He expressed hope that Pride House Tokyo will not just be a temporary feature, but that it would lead to the establishment of a permanent facility in Japan — where very few LGBT athletes have come out — as part of the legacy of the Games.

“Sports has the power to change the future,” Matsunaka said. “We want to work closely with the sports world to make diversity something that’s positive.”

Also attending the joint news conference, Fumino Sugiyama, a transgender person who formerly represented Japan as a female fencer, said Japanese LGBT athletes often find it difficult to come out because of potentially negative repercussions.

“I hope everyone will accept other people’s individuality and differences, and work together with the power of sports to cooperate with each other and raise momentum,” Sugiyama said.

Artist Asao Tokolo, who designed the checkered official logos for the 2020 Olympics, created the emblem for Pride House Tokyo, which features the six colors of the rainbow that are also used as a symbol for LGBT pride.

“I hope we can look back fondly after 30 years or 50 years on what we have done in 2020, or that this kind of house will no longer be necessary by that time,” said Tokolo, adding that while he himself needs to learn more about LGBT issues, he wants to contribute what he can to spread understanding.

Matsunaka said he is counting on “collective impact” in cooperation with various sectors, including nonprofit organizations, companies and individuals, and expressed hope that more will join in with the efforts.

The Pride House Tokyo consortium plans to hold cultural and sports events in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games.