14 OPENLY GAY ATHLETES TO COMPETE AT LONDON OLYMPICS

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Openly-gay Aussie diving champ
Matthew Mitcham

At this point, there are only 14 openly-gay or lesbian athletes who will be competing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London this month. Of these, only two are men.

According to Outsports.com, the figure is slightly more than in previous Olympic Games. In the Beijing Games (2008) there were 10 and in Athens (2004) there were 11.

The website said that this shows that “not much has changed in athletes being public about their sexual orientation despite much more willingness of the public to deal with it”.

The 14 sportspeople, who have all publicly spoken about their sexual orientation, come from a total pool of 12,602 athletes who are set to participate in the event.

The openly gay athletes are Matthew Mitcham (Australia, diving); Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian); Lisa Raymond (US, doubles tennis); Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling); Seimone Augustus (US, basketball); Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing); Megan Rapinoe (US soccer); Marilyn Agliotti (Netherlands, field hockey); Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey); Natalie Cook (Australia, beach volleyball); Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball); Jessica Landström (Sweden, soccer); and Carole Péon (France, triathlon) and Jessica Harrison (France, triathlon).

The site revealed that there is also one openly-lesbian coach and one openly-gay Paralympian taking part in the Games: Pia Sundhage (US women’s soccer head coach) and Paralympian Lee Pearson (British male equestrian athlete).

Greg Louganis, the veteran American Olympian champion diver who came out after he retired, told the website that some gay athletes may not want to be open about their sexuality as they fear that the issue could dominate their career.

“I was out to my friends and my family. It was just my policy not to discuss my sexuality to members of the media. I wanted my participation in the sport to be about the sport. I didn’t want it to be about being the gay diver,” said Louganis, adding “It will be nice to get to a place where it’s a non-issue”.

Athletes who come from one of the 80 countries around the world in which homosexuality is illegal may understandably also choose not to reveal their sexual orientation.

British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell recently called for the 2012 London Olympic Games to bar countries with anti-gay laws from competing and to make a public statement that LGBT athletes are welcome at London 2012.

The London Olympic Games run from 27 July to 12 August.

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