New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has praised Olympics organisers for allowing her to compete in the Games ahead of her controversial debut in the 87kg category.
Hubbard is the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an individual sport in the 125-year history of the Games and said: “The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values.
“I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible.”
Laurel Hubbard competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
She transitioned in 2012 and has been the focus of both support and criticism in the build up to her first Olympics.
Hubbard met the qualifying criteria on levels of testosterone set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which revised its rules for trans athletes in 2016.
One of the IOC advisers was Joanna Harper from Loughborough University, who told Sky News: “Yes, Laurel has advantages – but within this group of 14 women that she is competing against, Laurel is probably somewhere in the middle of the pack.
“She could theoretically finish anywhere from third to 14th – and isn’t that sort of the definition of fair competition that a lot of things could potentially happen?”
Critics have argued that her inclusion is unfair on other competitors and that Hubbard is naturally stronger – the New Zealander is ranked 15th in the world.
Earlier at the Games, IOC President Thomas Bach said he wanted to review the rules further 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 said: “It differs from sport to sport.”
Team GB weightlifter Emily Campbell will compete against Hubbard on Monday, and her teammate Emily Muskett told Sky News: “It’s a controversial topic – but at the end of the day the rules have been set by the IOC and the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) so she is allowed to compete.
“Obviously we will put all of our support behind Emily and it will be a great competition to watch.”
Canadian footballer, Quinn – who is transgender and non-binary – also made their debut at the Tokyo Olympics. They posted on their Instagram account recently: “I feel optimistic for change. Change in legislature. Changes in rules, structures, and mindsets.”