Record Number of LGBTQ Athletes Competing at Tokyo Olympics, Team USA Leads with 30 Competitors

Team USA accounts for the country with the most openly queer athletes with 30

Erica Bougard, Megan Rapinoe, Domien Michiels
Erica Bougard, Megan Rapinoe, Domien Michiels. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty; M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty; JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty

The number of out LGBTQ+ athletes competing in Tokyo is more than double of the competitors tallied during the last Summer Games in 2016.

This year, 121 openly queer athletes are vying for gold medals at the Olympics, according to a report compiled by Outsports published on Monday. The number is a significant jump from their 2016 Rio Games tally of 56 and the 2012 London Olympics total of 23.

The list only includes out Olympians, as Paralympians will be determined in a later report.

"Every out and proud athlete is a beacon for others who haven't yet come out, or who are unsure if they can be their full self and play the sport they love," Joanna Hoffman, the director of communications at the non-profit advocacy group Athlete Ally, told TIME.

Progress Pride flag
Progress Pride flag. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty
Erica Sullivan, Rashida Ellis
Erica Sullivan and Rashida Ellis. Lintao Zhang/Getty; Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty

Of the 121 athletes, the U.S. makes up the highest number of queer Olympians with 30 headed to Tokyo, per Outsports' report.

Repping Team USA includes basketball players Sue Bird, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi; BMX freestyle bikers Perris Benegas, Hannah Roberts and reserve rider Chelsea Wolfe; boxer Rashida Ellis, canoe slalom competitor Evy Leibfarth; equestrian Domien Michiels and reserve Nick Wagman; rowers Kendall Chase, Gia Doonan, Meghan O'Leary, Ellen Tomek and Julian Venonsky; rugby players Alev Kelter and Kristen Thomas; skateboarders Alexis Sablone and Alana Smith; soccer players Tierna Davidson, Adrianna Franch, Kelly O'Hara and Megan Rapinoe; softball players Ally Carda, Amanda Chidester and reserve Taylor Edwards; swimmer Erica Sullivan, track and field athletes Erica Bougard and Raven Saunders; and wrestler Kayla Miracle.

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Olympic rings
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Across the 25 countries with known LGBTQ+ athletes, women make up the highest population with a 7 to 1 ratio, according to Outsports.

The list also includes Laurel Hubbard, a New Zealand weightlifter, who is the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics.

In the U.S., a slew of bills has been proposed seeking to ban transgender athletes from school teams that align with their gender identity, leading to widespread backlash from sports stars and equal rights advocates.

Rapinoe penned an essay for The Washington Post in March, writing, "These bills are some of the most intense political assaults on LGBTQ people in recent years."

The USWNT star added, "Sports have become another avenue to attack the rights of trans people. These efforts cause incredible harm to trans youth, who, like all kids in a global pandemic, are feeling isolated and need compassion and support."

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.

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