A biological male – who has previously competed in the men’s division – will become the first transgender athlete to compete on New Zealand’s women’s weightlifting team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Laurel Hubbard said the following in a statement:
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders.”
According to reports, the International Olympic Committee amended the rules to allow biological males to compete in women’s sports as long as their testosterone level is below a certain measurement and is kept that way for at least 12 months.
Critics say that Hubbard, 43, who ‘transitioned’ 8 years ago, will still have an unfair edge when competing in the women’s super heavyweight division this summer.
According to the IOC guidelines, athletes who transition from male to female can compete in events without surgically removing their genitals, and according to recent studies, power gained during male puberty can last.
In order to qualify for the women’s division, Hubbard lifted 628 pounds in two lifts. She won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and a gold medal at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. She sustained a heavy injury at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but is now doing well.
According to Kereyn Smith, New Zealand’s Olympic Committee chief executive, Hubbard has met all the requirements to compete in this year’s Olympic games.
“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” Smith said. “As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of manaaki (hospitality) and inclusion and respect for all.”
Anna Vanbellinghen from Belgium, who will likely have to face Hubbard in Tokyo this year, said this would be “like a bad joke” for women competitors.
“Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes — medals and Olympic qualifications — and we are powerless. Of course, this debate is taking place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people and that is why the question is never free of ideology,” she said.
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