Laurel Hubbard: IOC backs transgender weightlifter's selection for Tokyo, says to review rules later

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CNN International 17 July, 2021 - 05:37am 18 views

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Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT) July 17, 2021

The International Olympic Committee on Saturday backed New Zealand's selection of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard for the Tokyo Olympics despite criticism, saying that under the current rules -- which will be reviewed in future -- she can compete.

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IOC backs transgender weightlifter's selection for Tokyo, says to review rules later

Reuters 17 July, 2021 - 04:57am

TOKYO, July 17 (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee on Saturday backed New Zealand's selection of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard for the Tokyo Olympics despite criticism, saying that under the current rules - which will be reviewed in future - she can compete.

Hubbard is set to become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Games after she was selected for the New Zealand team in the women's super-heavyweight 87+kg category.

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

"The rules for qualification have been established by the International Weightlifting Federation before the qualifications started," said IOC President Thomas Bach. "These rules apply, and you cannot change rules during ongoing 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 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," he told a news conference. "It differs from sport to sport."

The IOC had cleared the way in 2015 for transgender athletes to compete at the Games as women, provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

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

Supporters of transgender inclusion argue the process of transition decreases that advantage considerably and that physical differences between athletes mean there is never a truly level playing field in sport.

Asked repeatedly if he supported Hubbard competing in Tokyo, Bach said the athlete's selection was based on specific rules.

"The rules are in place and the rules have to be applied and you cannot change the rules during an ongoing qualification system," he said. "This is what all the athletes of the world are relying on: that the rules are being applied."

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First COVID case found in Games village

Yahoo News Australia 16 July, 2021 - 10:56am

The latest cases are a blow to the local organisers and the International Olympic Committee, who have insisted the Games will not become a super-spreader event.

The Tokyo organisers confirmed that a visitor from abroad working for the Olympics had tested positive in a routine check on Friday. The person's nationality was not revealed due to privacy concerns.

The other cases included two members of the media, seven contractors and five Games personnel.

The case at the athletes' village, a 44-hectare site built on Tokyo's waterfront, is particularly worrying as the majority of the 11,000 competitors will be staying there.

IOC President Thomas Bach, facing unprecedented opposition to an Olympics days before it starts, acknowledged the concerns in the Japanese public but urged them to welcome the athletes.

Bach said he was hoping domestic sporting success could help shift the mood from what he said bordered on the aggressive to something more supportive.

"We are well aware of the scepticism a number of people have here in Japan. We ask and invite the Japanese people, humbly, to welcome and support the athletes from around the world," Bach told a news conference.

"We are also confident once the Japanese people will see the Japanese athletes successfully performing in the Olympic Games then the attitude may become less emotional."

Originally intended to showcase Japan's recovery from its 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster, the Tokyo Olympics has become an exercise in damage limitation.

Postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, it is being held mostly without spectators and under tight quarantine rules. Most athletes are starting to arrive for the Games, which run from July 23 through August 8.

The Japanese public has been wary about hosting the Games at all amid a resurgence in new coronavirus infections and worries that an influx of visitors may create a super-spreader event, straining an already-stretched medical system.

Only around 20 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Although Japan has escaped the explosive outbreaks of other nations, it has recorded more than 820,000 cases and about 15,000 deaths. The number of new cases in host city Tokyo, which is in its fourth state of emergency over the virus, has been over 1,000 for four straight days.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto also acknowledged the public's concerns.

"I understand that there are still many worrying factors. Organisers must try to make sure that people understand that these games are safe and secure," she told a news conference on Saturday.

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