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Laurel Hubbard was given the all-clear to compete at the Tokyo Olympics this month even as criticism mounted against the International Olympic Committee over the fairness of her participation.
Hubbard became the first transgender woman to qualify for the Olympics last month. At 43 years old, she was able to qualify for the New Zealand team in the 87-kilogram category. She already received support from the IOC about competing as a woman in the competitions, but President Thomas Bach reiterated it Saturday.
“The rules for qualification have been established by the International Weightlifting Federation before the qualifications started,” Bach said, via Reuters. “These rules apply, and you cannot change rules during ongoing competitions.”
Bach said the current rules regarding trans athletes would be reviewed in the future.
“At the same time the IOC is in an inquiry phase with all different stakeholders … to review these rules and finally to come up with some guidelines which cannot be rules because this is a question where there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It differs from sport to sport,” he said.
When pressed, Bach said Hubbard met the specific rules to qualify for the Games.
“The rules are in place and the rules have to be applied and you cannot change the rules during an ongoing qualification system,” he added. “This is what all the athletes of the world are relying on: that the rules are being applied.”
Hubbard transitioned eight years ago at the age of 35. The IOC has previously said Hubbard has met all the requirements for trans athletes and fair competition. Among those, the athletes must demonstrate that their testosterone level is below a specific measurement for at least 12 months prior to their first competition.
Some critics insist that Hubbard will still have an unfair advantage when she competes in the women’s super heavyweight category.
The Guardian, citing IOC guidelines, reported that athletes who transition from male to female are allowed to compete in events without surgically removing their testes. The paper reported that some recent studies show power gained during male puberty can last.
Hubbard lifted 628 pounds in two lifts to qualify in the women’s super-heavyweight division. She won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and gold in the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. She competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but sustained a serious injury that set back her career.
New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said last month it’s clear Hubbard has met all the criteria to compete in Tokyo.
“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.”
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and the AP contributed to this report.
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