The head of the Tokyo Olympics took part in an event Tuesday to mark LGBTQ Pride week, as activists push for equality legislation to be enacted before the start of the games, in less than three months.
Seiko Hashimoto, who was appointed as the chief of the Olympics in February after her predecessor resigned over sexist remarks, visited Pride House Tokyo Legacy, an LGBTQ center in the Japanese capital.
“We need to take action now,” Hashimoto said, according to The Associated Press.
The seven-time Olympian — representing Japan as both a speed skater and track cyclist in four Winter Games and three Summer Games — said that she wants people to remember this year’s Olympics as a “turning point in achieving diversity and harmony, including understanding for LGBTQ” issues.
Hashimoto met with LGBTQ activists and athletes, and also toured the Pride House, Japan’s first permanent LGBTQ center.
The organization works to ensure that LGBTQ athletes and spectators are “free to be themselves as they enjoy a diversity-themed Olympics,” while also aiming to “create a permanent safe space for the next generation of LGBT youth as an enduring legacy of 2020,” according to a description on its website.
“As the organizing committee is gearing up to welcome athletes from all over the world, we would like to deepen our understanding and firmly tackle the issue of unity in diversity,” Hashimoto told Pride House members, according to Reuters.
Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, is the only nation among the Group of Seven that doesn’t recognize same-sex unions.
Last month, a court ruled that failure to recognize same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, in the country’s first judicial ruling on the issue.
While the landmark decision didn’t immediately have any legal consequences, it signaled to marriage equality supporters that legalized same-sex unions could potentially become a reality in the future.
The Tokyo Summer Olympics, originally planned for July and August 2020, were postponed early last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The multi-sport event is now scheduled to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 — with no spectators from overseas.