A rainbow legacy at Tokyo 2020

By Carmen Grau Vila

Tokyo, Jun 28 (EFE).- An LGBTQI collective in Japan is joining forces with activists, athletes and volunteers to make the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games one of diversity and inclusivity in a country where gay and trans rights trail behind other developed nations.

“I’m a lesbian, and I never thought I’d make that confession in front of hundreds of people,” Yuri Igarashi tells the camera at Pride House Tokyo, one of the first LGBTQI spaces in Japan.

Some 430 Tokyo 2020 volunteers tune into the online training course on diversity.

Shigeyoshi Suzuki talks about being gay, Minori Takieda about being trans and Anri Ono offers advice on how to avoid discrimination, topics that are the subject of a timely discussion in the world of sport.

The volunteers are gearing up to act as guides for athletes and spectators, and to hand out medals at an Olympic Games taking place in the midst of the pandemic.

Those taking part in the training ask questions to clear up their doubts — what language to avoid, how to show support, how to indicate bathrooms without making presumptions.

At the event, they will see the first ever transgender Olympian, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, take part in the competition.

Foreign spectators will be absent from the Olympic venues, and local crowds will be tightly controlled. But Japan’s LGBTQI collective nonetheless sees the global sporting event as an opportunity to secure progress in the Asian country.

“The situation with the pandemic is complicated amid doubts as to whether they should be held at all, but if the Tokyo Games do go ahead it will be an opportunity for change in Japan and to inform the world about our collective,” Gon Matsunaka, president of Pride House Tokyo, says.

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