Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has finally broken her silence after she was allowed to compete at Tokyo Games against women.
The 43-year-old athlete from New Zealand has qualified under International Weightlifting Federation rules to compete in the 87+kg category in Tokyo.
But her qualification has sparked debate, with many arguing that being a trans woman gives her an unfair physical advantage.
A statement was read out on Hubbard’s behalf at an IOC briefing on Friday.
She thanked the International Olympic Committee for the inclusive policies that allow her to join at a Games as a transgender athlete.
“I see the Olympic Games as a global celebration of our hopes, ideals and values and I would like to thank the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible,” she said.
Before her transition, she competed as a man under the name of Gavin.
Hubbard’s competitor Anna Vanbellinghen previously stated that allowing the 43-year-old to compete in the women’s 87+ category was a ‘bad joke.’
But she immediately added that she fully supported the transgender community. However, she said that the principle of inclusion shouldn’t be ‘at the expense of others.’
Speaking to the Olympics news website Inside The Games, Vanbellinghen said: “Anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.”
Advocates for diversity in sport said Hubbard’s selection shows transgender athletes do not pose a threat to women’s sport.
However, the level of criticism against her suggests that the debate for inclusion is not over yet.
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