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Friday, 26 September 2008


Following Matthew Mitcham’s Olympic triumph in Beijing last month, and NBC’s failure to make any reference to the fact that the young Australian was an out gay athlete, recently conducted a wide-ranging interview with the broadcaster’s Olympic host, Bob Costas.

Mitcham, who was the only out gay male athlete at the games, won gold in the men’s 10-metre platform diving event, preventing a gold-medal sweep by the Chinese men’s diving team. What’s more, he did it in dramatic fashion, winning on his final dive and posting the highest recorded score ever for an Olympic dive by a man!

As we reported here in August:

Mitcham’s journey has not been an easy one. He’s already battled depression, retired while still a teenager after becoming physically and emotionally burnt out, then, nine months later, resumed his sport to build himself into the champion he now undoubtedly is.

But, at the time of the Olympic coverage, NBC chose to ignore all this.

As points out:

It’s a combination of sports history in the making and moving personal story that usually makes for great Olympic coverage.

Yet during NBC’s two evening’s worth of platform diving coverage, neither Mitcham’s status as the only out gay male athlete, nor his moving personal story was ever mentioned. This dramatic and historic information was instead replaced by the commentators with a vague reference to Mitcham overcoming “personal issues”.

In August, led the coverage, which was soon picked up by LGBT organisations and publications, including Pink Triangle, around the globe. Everyone was dismayed at NBC’s apparent homophobia. contacted NBC Sports, who gave an initial response indicating that they had no problem with their coverage of Mitcham, only to later follow that up with an apology when they contacted the broadcaster again.

Now, in the interview with, Costas talks about gay people in sports generally and about Mitcham specifically, admitting that he – Mitcham – had not been an athlete he’d been focusing on: “But had [I] been, I would have thought [Mitcham’s sexuality] was a worthwhile thing to mention.”

You can read all our coverage of Matthew Mitcham here.

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