IOC Backs First Transgender Athlete’s Selection For Olympics

by : Emily Brown on : 17 Jul 2021 11:54
IOC Backs First Transgender Athlete's Selection For OlympicsPA/North Sport Olympic Weightlifting/Facebook

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has backed New Zealand’s selection of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard for the Tokyo Olympics. 

Hubbard made history in June when it was announced she was the first transgender athlete to be selected for the Olympic games, where she will compete in the super-heavyweight 87+kg category.


The weightlifter described herself as being ‘grateful and humbled’ to be chosen, though the decision was met with backlash from many people who argued her inclusion was ‘unfair’ to female athletes.

In spite of the controversy, the IOC confirmed today, July 17, that it stood by New Zealand’s decision, explaining that Hubbard is free to compete under current rules.

Olympic rings (PA Images)PA Images

At a news conference cited by Reuters, IOC President Thomas Bach explained that the rules for qualification ‘have been established by the International Weightlifting Federation before the qualifications started’.


He continued: ‘These rules apply, and you cannot change rules during ongoing competitions.’

In 2015, the IOC ruled that transgender women can compete in the Olympics provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

The rules are set to be reviewed with all stakeholders involved, Bach explained, in order to set new guidelines in the future.


He said: ‘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.’

Bach did not say specifically whether he supported Hubbard’s inclusion in the upcoming Olympics, stressing instead that her selection was based on specific rules which ‘are in place’ and ‘have to be applied’.

He added: ‘This is what all the athletes of the world are relying on: that the rules are being applied.’

The 2021 Olympic Games are set to begin on Friday, July 23, with the Olympic opening ceremony.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Sport, Laurel Hubbard, LGBTQ+, no-article-matching, Olympic Games, Olympics, transgender


  1. Reuters

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