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These 4 out Olympians can’t marry their partners in the countries they are representing at the Olympics

Most out LGBTQ athletes in Beijing have access to marriage rights, while these Olympic athletes do not.

Sarka Pancochova will compete in her third Olympic Games, the first after marrying her wife, Kaileen, in Oregon. While representing the Czech Republic, the couple cannot legally marry there.
Cindy Santini / Instagram

At least four out LGBTQ athletes at the Beijing Winter Olympics — all in long-term same-sex relationships — can’t legally marry their partner in the country they are representing at the Olympics.

Amongst some countries represented in Beijing by out LGBTQ athletes, several of them — Belgium (2003), Canada (2005) and Sweden (2009) — were amongst the first nations to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, with the Netherlands in 2001 becoming the first.

Netherlands has one publicly out athlete in Beijing that Outsports knows of: Ireen Wüst, the most decorated out Winter Olympian of all time and the athlete with the fourth-most Winter Olympic medals.

Yet still many countries competing in the Olympic Games have refused to legalize same-sex marriage.

Sarka Pancochova, snowboarding, Czech Republic

Snowboarder Sarka Pancochova has not been shy about her relationship with her now-wife, Kaileen. The couple married in Oregon last summer, where they could legally marry. Pancochova came out publicly in 2017 in an Outsports interview with Gretchen Pleshaw, and she continues to use her elevated profile in the Czech Republic to advocate for same-sex marriage rights.

Aneta Lédlová, ice hockey, Czech Republic

Also representing the Czech Republic is ice hockey player Aneta Lédlová, who married her wife in 2018, according to her Instagram account. The two have a baby together, and they are not shy about their relationship on social media.

Filippo Ambrosini, figure skating, Italy

Figure skater Filippo Ambrosini of Italy is also in a long-term same-sex relationship. While same-sex marriages aren’t recognized in Italy, recent polls show almost 60% support for that to change.

Simon Proulx Sénécal, ice dancing, Armenia

Simon Proulx Sénécal, representing Armenia, is also in a long-term relationship and living in Canada. Armenia has legally recognized same-sex marriages performed abroad since 2017, though the country has had a constitutional ban on marriages performed in the country since 2015.

There are also a couple of out gay athletes who are legally married to their same-sex partners, including figure skaters Eric Radford of Canada and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain, who married in Canada where he trains, in part due to COVID-19 travel restriction.