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32% of out LGBTQ Olympians won a medal in Tokyo. That’s a very high number

Being out helps athletes perform better on the court, track and field. That is becoming more and more clear.

Women’s Basketball Medal Ceremony - Olympics: Day 16
Sue Bird, coach Cheryll Reeve and Diana Taurasi are all out and won gold with Team USA basketball.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The number of publicly out LGBTQ athletes who competed at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and won a medal was very high. In fact, 32% of them are headed home with at least one gold, silver or bronze.

Our list of out athletes in Tokyo was 183. From our calculations the eight “reserve” athletes who were out — e.g., Chelsea Wolfe, Nick Wagman — did not compete. So we have used the 175 number of athletes who actually competed for a shot at a medal.

Of those out athletes, 56 of them won a medal. That 32% is higher than the vast majorities of countries. And those 56 hail from at least 30 countries themselves.

No country with fewer athletes in Tokyo finished ahead of Team LGBTQ. If Team LGBTQ were a country, its 175 competing athletes would have been the 18th largest contingent. A 7th-place finish for Team LGBTQ was exceptional given the size of the “team.”

Of all the medal winners, diver Tom Daley of Great Britain was the only out athlete who won multiple medals, taking home a gold and bronze. A gold medal will be going home with 21 of the out athletes.

By our count, the two teams with the second-most publicly out LGBTQ athletes at the Tokyo Summer Olympics (both with five; Dutch women’s soccer had more) won gold: Team USA women’s basketball and Team Canada women’s soccer. Team USA won the most distinct medals for Team LGBTQ: six total.

Athletes from the USA and New Zealand earned two golds,

At the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, 47% of the out athletes won a medal. It’s expected, just from a numbers perspective, that the percent would go down as more athletes come out.

It’s also notable that another 34 publicly out LGBTQ athletes finished just off the podium in fourth or fifth. That’s essentially half of the out athletes finishing in the top five of their event. Amazing.

Huge congratulations to all of the athletes in Tokyo who were out. And our prediction for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris: Over 300 publicly out LGBTQ athletes. Believe!