The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will feature more than 160 openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer competitors, making it the most inclusive Games ever.
This has focused attention on the host country, Japan, which activists claim is behind the times in comparison to the rest of the globe, having not experienced the same sweeping social shift that has made same-sex marriage and broader inclusiveness a reality in many nations.
Fumino Sugiyama, a 39-year-old former Japanese national team fencer and transgender campaigner, said he was pleased to witness the Games’ improvement in terms of diversity. When he was younger, sports were drastically different, and racist language was frequent, he claimed.
Sugiyama began fencing at the age of ten, climbing through the ranks and finally playing for the Japanese women’s team on an international level. He felt torn about competing as a woman and retired at the age of 25.
“I loved the sport of fencing, I didn’t feel I could find a place for myself,” he said
While Japan is famed for its robust civil society and democracy, rights campaigners say the country still has a long way to go in terms of tackling issues relating to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers (LGBTQ).
The Olympic charter prohibits discrimination, and while Tokyo passed an anti-discrimination law three years ago, much of the rest of the country lacks the same legal protections.
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