Laurel Hubbard: IOC supports selection of transgender weightlifter for Tokyo, says to review rules later

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Hubbard is set to become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Games after being selected for Team New Zealand in the 87 + kg super heavyweight category.

The inclusion of the 43-year-old has been divisive, with supporters hailing the decision while critics questioned the fairness of transgender athletes competing against women.

“The qualifying rules were established by the International Weightlifting Federation before the start of qualifying,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “These rules apply and you cannot change the rules during current competitions.”

Bach said the rules would be reviewed with all stakeholders involved in order to set new guidelines in the future.

“At the same time, the IOC is in an investigation phase with all the different stakeholders … to review these rules and finally to propose guidelines which cannot be rules because it is a question where there is no is no one size fits all – all solutions, ”he told a press conference. “It’s different from sport to sport.”

In this April 9, 2018 file photo, Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand lifts the snatch in the +90kg weightlifting final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia.
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The IOC paved the way in 2015 for transgender athletes to compete in the Games as women, provided their testosterone levels were below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Some scientists have said the guidelines do little to lessen the biological benefits of those who have gone through puberty as men, such as bone and muscle density.

Proponents of transgender inclusion argue that the transition process dramatically diminishes this benefit and that the physical differences between athletes mean that there is never really a level playing field in sport.

When asked repeatedly if he supports Hubbard competing in Tokyo, Bach said the athlete’s selection was based on specific rules.

“The rules are in place and the rules must be enforced and you cannot change the rules during an ongoing qualifying system,” he said. “This is what all the athletes in the world are counting on: that the rules be enforced.”

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