Olympic telecasts from Tokyo over the next two weeks will be dominated by two sports. In the first week will be swimming, and in week two will be track and field. If you’re watching NBC or any other broadcast network around the world, you’ll see a lot of swimming, running, throwing and jumping. And there are numerous out LGBTQ athletes in each of those to sports to cheer for.
Yet there are various other sports LGBTQ fans may want to be sure to tune into. Here are a few to consider.
It’s not just about the eye candy with men’s diving, though with everyone in swimming wearing pants it’s the only spot you’ll get to see men in Speedos. British diver Tom Daley is also a huge draw for viewers. It will be his fourth Olympics and second Olympic Games after coming out publicly and sharing his relationship with Dustin Lance Black. At 27, it also may be his last. Anton Down-Jenkins is the other publicly out diver. And German diver Timo Barthel gave Outsports some thoughts on being not “gay” or “straight.”
There’s no getting around the headlines being driven around the world by the participation of Laurel Hubbard in weightlifting. The trans athlete will make history when she competes for New Zealand in the women’s +87kg category. The world’s eyes will be watching Hubbard, and you will want to as well.
Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics
No publicly out athletes here. Just lots of beautiful people providing plenty of eye candy. Plus, gymnastics has long been a favorite of the LGBTQ community due to some of the artistry displayed, particularly in the floor exercise of the women. Though we do strongly agree with American Sam Mikulak, who says the men should compete shirtless.
No sport has more publicly out LGBTQ athletes that we know of than women’s soccer. With over 40 athletes, there are more out athletes at the Tokyo tournament than the Women’s World Cup just two years ago (and there are half the teams in Tokyo). We’ll have our eyes on the USWNT, of course, but also Team Canada with the other publicly out trans competitor at these Games — Quinn — as well as Team Brazil, where Formiga will compete in her seventh Olympic Games, the only woman to compete in every Olympic Women’s Soccer tournament ever held.
Some of the strongest men at the Olympics are rowers, and they have the physique to match. Plus, the medal ceremony always gets people atwitter with the bulge watch, which is actually a point of conversation in the rowing community.
Women’s BMX Freestyle & Skateboarding
It’s the Olympic debut for both of these sports, and Team USA is dominated by out athletes. Alexis Sablone and Alana Smith will both compete in the women’s street skateboarding competition. The entire American BMX Freestyle team is comprised of out LGBTQ athletes: Hannah Roberts and Perris Benegas will compete, with Chelsea Wolfe the reserve.
Men’s and Women’s Sport Climbing
No matter who you are, there’s something fascinating about watching people map out a path up a rock wall and execute it. Plus, the bodies on these climbers are particularly fit and lean — no one wants to lift and hold up extra pounds as you’re scaling a wall — if that’s your thing.
One of only two sports where men and women compete together, equestrian was the first sport to have a publicly out athlete at the Olympics (Robert Dover in 1988), and there’s been an out athlete competing at every Olympics since. It’s also a unique Olympic sport (the only one involving an animal) and can make for some interesting and beautiful television. Before he headed to Tokyo, Team USA reserve Nick Wagman gave Outsports the first interview of him talking about being gay.
If there’s another sport you’re particularly interested in, be sure to leave it in the comments below.