Tom Daley has criticised countries that are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community but choose to host major sporting events.
The 27-year-old won gold in the 10 metre synchronised platform diving competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo – a first for the professional diver.
Daley previously won two bronze medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, as well as a third at Tokyo 2020.
In an interview with GQ, he spoke about homophobic comments made against him on Russian TV during this year’s Games.
“There are ten countries where [being LGBTQ+] is punishable by death that are still competing at the Olympic Games,” Daley explained. “So, yeah. I only found out recently [about the comments]. I didn’t know that at the time: I was very much in an Olympic bubble.”
The diver went on to state that countries “criminalising” the community should think twice about “hosting major sporting events.”
He added: “But I just think that any country that has, you know, laws criminalising LGBT shouldn’t be hosting major sporting events. A country like Russia should not be hosting major sporting events [or] the World Cup in Qatar. No wonder there’s no out footballers. When you see how racism in sport is still so prevalent, homophobia is definitely going to be there [too].”
Daley also said that he hasn’t heard of Boris Johnson intervening in some of the competing nations in the Commonwealth Games criminalising LGBTQ+ people as he said he would.
“Not that I’ve heard, no,” he answered when asked about this. “I know two countries since then have decriminalised LGBTQ+ people. I don’t know if Boris Johnson has any control over the Commonwealth in that sense, but, you know, especially for the Commonwealth Games, they should not be allowed to host any of those major events if they have those laws.”
He also discussed the upcoming eight-year anniversary of his coming out video, something he called a “traumatic” but “liberating experience.”
“It was kind of traumatic, but then [also] a very liberating experience,” he said. “To be honest, I wish I had come out earlier. I don’t know what that would have been like for me or whatever, but since coming out I’ve felt like I could be myself; all of that pressure comes off. I look back and think, ‘Imagine if I was out when I was 16, 17, when I first started exploring?’ One thing that’s hard is exploring sexuality in the public eye. I think if I wasn’t in the public eye maybe things would be different. It’s a very surreal thing to have to go through that in the public eye.”
Daley first competed in the Olympics in Beijing back in 2008 aged just 14-years-old.
He then scored bronze medal placings in the individual and synchronised 10m events at London 2012 and Rio 2016 respectively.
Daley’s Olympic gold medal joins his European, World and Commonwealth gold titles, completing a set for a diver at the top-most level of the sport.