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Pride House on Seine River barge is inaugurated by Paris Olympics organizers

The Pride House is pictured in Paris, Friday, May 17, 2024. The boat, moored between the Grand Palais and the Place de la Concorde in the city center, is meant to be a safe space for LGBTQ athletes and visitors during the Olympics and Paralympics this summer. (AP Photo/Tom Nouvian)

PARIS (AP) — The Pride House of the Paris Olympics was inaugurated on a barge in the Seine River by Games organizers on Friday.

The boat, moored between the Grand Palais and the Place de la Concorde in the city center, is meant to be a safe space for LGBTQ athletes and visitors during the Olympics and Paralympics.

“France will guarantee that everyone feels like they belong in the celebration,” French Equality Minister Aurore Bergé said at the inauguration.

The initiative is part of a broader movement of pushing the rights of LGBTQ people through major sporting events, with the first Pride House established during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The precedent was set by the 2021 Tokyo Games, which saw significant strides in LGBTQ inclusion.

“There will probably be athletes that will come to the Paris Olympics who have never been to a country where they have been fully accepted. It will be a breath of fresh air for them once they realize that they can be themselves here,” said Amazin LeThi, a Vietnamese LGBTQ athlete and Pride House ambassador.

The International Olympic Committee in 2021 relaxed rules that previously restricted expressions of belief or identity. This change allowed the wearing of rainbow colors at the Tokyo Games and will enable athletes to freely express themselves in Paris when not competing.

The Pride House is set to open to visitors on July 26 following the Olympics opening ceremony.

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AP Paris Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games