The Tokyo games are set to be the one of the most inclusive Olympics ceremonies ever, with at least 163 publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and nonbinary athletes competing. This according to Outsports, a platform dedicated to telling the stories of LGBTQ+ athletes. As you watch the 2020 Olympic games, make sure to cheer for these three incredible athletes competing for Team Italy.
Marathon Swimmer Rachele Bruni
Born in Florence, Italy, marathon swimmer Rachele Bruni is Italy’s first openly out Olympian, and she already has an Olympic medal to her name. She won the Silver Medal at the 2016 Rio Games for the 10 km event. She made waves in the press by dedicating the win to her girlfriend, credited as a landmark moment for Italian LGBTQ+ representation in the Olympic games. Ahead of the 2021 competition in Tokyo, she told Huffington Post, “I just know that it came naturally to me to think about my beloved and not about people’s prejudices. Undoubtedly there are people who still have prejudices, but I live peacefully, and I live for myself, for my passion for swimming, and for the people who love me.”
Judo Fighter Alice Bellandi
Born in Brescia, this women’s Judo fighter moved to Rome at the age of 17 to pursue her Judo career. The 2018 Junior World Champion and 2019 Judo Grand Prix silver medalist pulled on our heartstrings with a loving tribute to her partner, Chiara Verger. Translated to English, she writes, “You changed my life, upset my priorities, fixed my dreams. You taught me so much, you let us switch roles, you licked my wounds as if they were yours. You are my victory, my starting point for each day that ends.”
Volleyball Star Paola Egonu
This opposite hitter born in Cittadella, Padova, was just seventeen when she competed with Team Italy in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Italy’s world silver medalist has spoken about being blunt, fighting prejudice in 2020, and learning to be more consistent in her volleyball. “I left home when I was very young,” the now-21-year-old told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Since then I’ve had to – and I wanted to – make choices that show Paola Egonu, the woman (rather than a child).”
See the full list of 163 publicly out athletes competing in Tokyo here.