Tom Daley calls for sports bodies to help stop discrimination; ‘Everyone should feel welcome’

Tom Daley speaks during the Kaleidoscope Trust Gala.

Pro-diver and knitting-extraordinaire Tom Daley has called on professional sporting bodies to make everyone feel welcome in sports.

The Olympic Gold medalist said that sporting institutions “should be sending out a message… that everyone is welcome no matter who you are” in a Saturday (15 October) tell-all interview with The Independent.

“Everyone should feel welcome when they try sport,” he said. “I just think of myself when I was younger. I’m not transgender, obviously, but if I was told as a gay man I was never going to be able to compete because of who I am, then of course I’d never have tried.”

During the interview, he specifically cites the archaic ruling by the swimming governing body FINA that effectively bans trans women from competitive circuits.

The 20 June decision prohibits candidates who have “experienced male puberty” after the age of 12, or “beyond Tanner Stage 2 [of puberty]” from competing in the women’s division.

Tom Daley carries the Queen’s Baton during the Opening Ceremony of Commonwealth Games.

Tom Daley carries the Queen’s Baton during the Opening Ceremony of Commonwealth Games. (Getty)

Daley added that the sporting industry is falling behind society in acceptance because of how “heteronormative” many aspects of competition still are.

“In most businesses, there isn’t that exclusion,” he continued. “And if there is… Then there’s lots of HR people that would step in.

“Sport just seems to be a case of, ‘Oh, well, no, that’s sport.’ It’s this form of entertainment, essentially, for lots of people around the world. Yet it’s probably one of the most heteronormative spaces.”

Indeed, a massive chunk of the sporting world still sees mass discrimination either from an institutional basis or through bigoted fan rhetoric that spills out onto the streets.

From anti-LGBTQ+ boycotts by signed rugby athletes to the absurd notion of trans women having a “mental” advantage over cisgender women simply because of their gender, discrimination has become incredibly complex in the world of sports.

Tom Daley comments on Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup

Daley’s explanation of heteronormativity in sporting events is no less represented when FIFA chose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010.

The middle-eastern country still criminalises homosexuality under Sharia law, meaning that LGBTQ+ people can face imprisonment, a fine, or even the death penalty.

Despite this, several FIFA officials and football figureheads have seemingly tried to ignore the country’s incredibly harsh laws and called it “perfection.”

Several footballers who are headed to Qatar for the tournament are planning to show their solidarity through Pride-related apparel. England team Captain Harry Kane plans to wear an anti-discrimination armband during matches.

“I don’t understand how it would be a good idea to have a World Cup in a place [where] not everyone is welcome,” Daley said.

In his documentary Illegal To Be Me, Daley travels around the world to meet LGBTQ+ athletes living in countries that ban homosexuality.

Initially, called for an Olympic ban on the countries that do so, but later realised that a ban would put “a target on the back of those LGBT people” and that it would become “further oppression.”