On Wednesday, while accepting Attitude’s Sport Award, British Olympic diver Tom Daley used a significant portion of his speech to decry the fact that certain countries that punish homosexuals with death are allowed to participate in the Olympics.
Daley, who won a gold medal in the 10m synchro in Tokyo, as well as a bronze in the 10m platform, said in part:
… there are still ten countries that punish being gay with death, that were still allowed to compete at the Olympic Games — and I think that is quite shocking to a lot of people.
The diver went on to note that while he has spoken about the issue before, he believes that it’s vital to “create change” in addition to “shining a light” on the problem.
“So, I want to make it my mission over the next, well, hopefully before the Paris Olympics in 2024, to make it so that the countries that criminalize and — punishable by death for LGBT people — are not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games,” Daley said.
After acknowledging that he feels lucky to live in a nation that doesn’t engage in the execution of LGBT individuals, Daley again contended that countries “where you can’t be yourself” should not be allowed to participate in or host the Olympic Games.
He also made specific reference to the fact that Qatar is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup despite their draconian laws on the issue. “For example, the World Cup coming up in Qatar has extreme rules against LGBT people and about women,” Daley stated.
According to Human Rights Watch, seven countries have laws (either criminal or Sharia) against homosexual acts, the punishments for which can include death. Those countries are Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Nigeria, Mauritania, Iran, and Brunei.
Other nations, such as Malaysia, Maldives, and Tonga include “lashes” or whipping as punishments, and many others mandate lengthy prison sentences, monetary fines, and even hard labor.
Daley isn’t the only one looking at the Olympics through the lens of human rights. Some politicians have advocated a boycott of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, which are set to take place in Beijing.
Former South Carolina Governor and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeted in February: “We must boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. It would be a terrible loss for our athletes, but that must be weighed against the genocide occurring in China and the prospect that empowering China will lead to even greater horrors down the road.”
In July, former Vice President Mike Pence said: “President Biden should make a clear and unequivocal demand that the 2022 Winter Olympics be moved from Beijing unless China comes clean on the origins of COVID-19 and immediately ends persecution of the Uyghur people. The Olympics should only take place in countries that respect fundamental human rights and the well-being of mankind.”
Others have taken a different position.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Politico: “I don’t think we should be punishing athletes who have spent their entire lives training. We should go to Beijing, compete, and win.”
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