Why the Tokyo Olympics are proving to be such a game changer, says Catherine Scott

There were many people, including me, who were dubious whether the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would or indeed should go ahead.

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard waves to spectators in the Women's +87kg Group A Weightlifting at Tokyo international Forum on the tenth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

With spiralling Covid levels in Japan, a ban on life spectators and cases of the virus among the teams, it seemed a strange decision to plough on with the postponed games.

But the International Olympic Committee was determined, And it now seems their decision was the correct one.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

For athletes whose careers are often focused on , what for many is the pinnacle of their career, it was definitely the right decision.

And for those of us watching thousands of miles away from Tokyo the Games are proving a much needed diversion from the seemingly never ending pandemic.

I can’t say I have been glued to the television coverage but the sports I have seen and the joy etched on the faces of those on the podium from whatever country, is palpable.

For them the cancellation of the 2020 Games and then the uncertainty, up until the last minute, as to whether they would go ahead this year has made even just taking part an achievement to be celebrated.

The Tokyo Games are an achievement in more ways than one.

They have already been dubbed the Rainbow Games with more publicly gay 
athletes in these Olympics than in all other Games combined.

There are at least 172 LGBTQ+ and out athletes competing in Tokyo, which is more than three times as many as Rio 2016, according to Outsports.com, which celebrates the achievements of LGBTQ+ sportspeople. An emotional, Tom Daley, always an advocate for gay rights, said he was ‘incredibly proud to say I am gay and an Olympic champion’ as he received his long-awaited gold medal in the diving. LGBTQ+ rights campaigners hope this Olympic Games message of positive inclusivity can have a lasting, global impact.

However, there has been controversy about the inclusion of weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who is transgender, and competed for New Zealand this week.

She began transitioning in 2012 and met the IOC’s rules for transgender athletes, which allow them to compete in the category if they maintain a sufficiently low testosterone level for at least 12 months prior to competition. But some maintained it gave her an unfair advantage. She did not succeed in getting a medal for her country, but she achieved, what for some is something of far greater significance. She has started the debate about transgender athletes competing at elite level which brought praise from the IOC.