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Olympics chief backs participation of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the Women's +90kg Final. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images/TNS)

The president of the International Olympic Committee said that the organization backs the participation of transgender weightlifter Lauren Hubbard in the Tokyo Olympics.

During a press conference Saturday, Thomas Bach expressed total support to the 43-year-old New Zealander, who’s set to make history as the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Summer Games.

Responding to a reporter from a New Zealand who asked how the IOC determined whether it was fair for Hubbard to compete with biological women, Bach was clear.

“The rules for qualification have been established by the International Weightlifting Federation before the qualifications started, and these rules apply,” the IOC chief answered without missing a beat. “You cannot change rules during an ongoing competition.”

He also added that the rules will be reviewed at a later date.

“At the same time the IOC is in an inquiry phase with all different stakeholders — the medical experts, social experts, human rights experts, as well as, of course, international federations — 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 said. ”It’s a situation that differs from sport to sport.”

According to current IOC guidelines, transgender female athletes are allowed to compete provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Later in the press conference, when asked if he could give his “personal and complete support” to the participation of the athlete, the IOC president left no room for doubts. She will indeed participate in this year’s Olympics, since under current rules she’s allowed to compete.

“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.”

Hubbard, who won a silver medal at the 2017 world championships in California, and who’s currently 16th in the world rankings, will compete in the women’s super-heavyweight 87-kg (192 pounds) weightlifting category.

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