Laurel Hubbard will make history as the first openly transgender athlete confirmed to compete at an Olympic Games.
A weightlifter from New Zealand, Hubbard will compete in the women’s 87-kilogram category, after qualifying for the Olympics in May.
Hubbard, who won silver at the 2017 women’s weightlifting world championships, has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015, when the International Olympic Committee issued guidelines allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s categories provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before the first competition.
Hubbard’s inclusion in the Toyko games is set to attract huge media attention, as well as some criticism from fellow athletes.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a statement.
“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha carried me through the darkness.”
New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive, Kereyn Smith, despite the controversy surrounding Hubbard’s qualification for the Olmypics, it was important to find a balance of human rights and fairness.
“As well as being among the world’s best for her event, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria including those based on IOC Consensus Statement guidelines for transgender athletes,” Smith said.
“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play.
“As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of manaaki and inclusion and respect for all.
“We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing, along with their high-performance needs, while preparing for and competing at the Olympic Games are met.”