Tom Daley speaks out on sport and gay rights in Christmas TV message | Channel 4

Olympic champion diver Tom Daley said countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to host major sporting events as long as their governments continue to persecute gay men.

Daley made the comments as part of this year’s alternative Christmas post, which airs Christmas Day on Channel 4 at 5 p.m. and offers a different take on the Queen’s traditional speech to the nation.

The decision to award the Men’s Football World Cup to Qatar, where homosexuality remains illegal, has prompted accusations of “sportswashing”. The term refers to repressive governments with poor human rights records that use sporting events to gain the approval of the Western public.

Daley said: “In 2022 the World Cup will take place in the second most dangerous country on the planet for gay people, Qatar. Why do we allow venues that are not safe for all fans and players to host our most prestigious sporting events? Organizing a World Cup is an honor. Why do we honor them? To hold a Formula 1 Grand Prix is ​​an honor. Why do we honor Saudi Arabia? “

He said he had personally been “lucky” to be able to live his life as a gay man with husband, Lance Black, and their son Robert – but pointed out how the rest of the sport still has a long way to go. Browse. He pointed out that there are tens of thousands of professional footballers in the world – but Australian Josh Cavallo is the only openly gay one high level male footballer.

Daley said, “Well done Josh, I mean your courage is amazing. But just think for a moment how many players are too scared to speak, and how lonely that must be.

“Almost 7% of people in the UK identify as gay or bisexual and there are around 500 Premier League players. This statistically means that there are enough players for three football teams to visit this field every week. At least one gay man in every Premier League club, living a lie. So if I had one Christmas wish it would be that next year that would change. This incredibly brave Premier League player comes forward and says ‘I’m gay’.

“This person would inspire gays around the world, give hope to thousands of teens struggling with their sexuality and save the lives of countless young people who currently do not feel they belong in this. world.”

He used the speech to call for greater solidarity with transgender athletes, said transgender rights are an integral part of the gay movement and praised transgender athletes who competed in the Tokyo Olympics. “The fact that they got there in the current climate of fear and panic around transgender people makes their accomplishments all the more impressive. There is no LGB without the T, ”he said.

Daley, 27, won his first Olympic gold medal this summer – in the 10-meter synchronized platform diving alongside Matty Lee – and was nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

In addition to his success on the diving board, Daley started knitting last year to help him stay calm and has now launched his own line of knitting kits. He said he had been proud to represent the GB team at the Olympics, but there had been times when he didn’t feel mentally strong enough: “I felt like I couldn’t dive. Some days the biggest leap was just getting out of bed.

“Over the summer, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles retired from competition at the height of her career, put her hands up and said she was struggling. We should all be inspired by the strength she has shown, that it is okay to disagree, and when that happens you are right to set limits and not to hurt yourself in order to please. to others.

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