Openly gay Brazilian Olympic diver Ian Matos died aged 32 following a severe infection that left him hospitalised.
Matos had been in hospital for two months before his condition worsened on Wednesday (22 December), the Sun reported. He had initially sought treatment because of an infection in his throat which later spread to his stomach and lungs.
He had won three bronze medals in the 2010 South American Games. He placed eighth in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro where he competed in the men’s synchronised three-metre springboard alongside his diving partner Luiz Outerelo.
Brazil’s Olympic Committee said in a statement that it is “profoundly saddened” to have received the “news of the premature death” of Matos.
The statement continued: “Team Brazil acknowledges his contribution to the evolution of the discipline.
“Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Matos came out publicly in 2014, two years before he would eventually compete in the Olympic games. He said he was inspired to live as his true self after seeing British diver Tom Daley’s coming out video in 2013.
“From a young age, I knew I was gay, but it was here that I got to live my sexuality,” Matos said at the time, referring to his home in Rio.
According to OutSports, Matos said a friend advised him to stay in the closet until after the 2016 Olympic games. But he said the pressure of hiding boyfriends, avoiding queer parties and not being able to live his truth was ultimately too much for the young diver.
At the time, Ian Matos had been part of a small number of out LGBT+ Olympic athletes. A then record-breaking 56 openly-LGBT+ athletes competed in the 2016 Rio games, OutSports reported.
In last summer’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, there were at least 186 out athletes, more than triple the number who participated in the Rio Olympics.