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New Zealand nominates trans woman to compete in the Olympics

Wellington - The National Olympic Committee of New Zealand (NZOC) nominated transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard for the Tokyo Games on Monday. The weightlifter in the class up to 87 kilograms is the first transgender athlete at the Olympics, reports the Reuters news agency.

"I am grateful and humble for the kindness and support I have received from so many New Zealanders," Reuters quoted Hubbard from a statement from the association. “We have a strong culture of respect and inclusion. We are committed to supporting all eligible athletes,” said the NZOC. "We recognize that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue that requires a balance between human rights and fairness on the field," said NZOC boss Kereyn Smith.

Criticism from opponents, coaches and spectators
Hubbard was born in 1978 to Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard. Until 2012 she took part in men's competitions. Then she had a gender reassignment operation and from then on competed with the women. In 2017 she became vice world champion. Her participation in women's competitions causes displeasure among opponents, coaches and spectators, as she, as a trans woman, is accused of having an unfair advantage. As a man, Hubbard had never competed in international competitions.

According to a guideline introduced by the International Olympic Committee in 2015, a trans woman must declare that her gender identity is female. This cannot be changed for four years. In addition, the athlete must prove that her testosterone level has been below a certain threshold for a period of at least twelve months.

Belgian weightlifter Anna Van Bellinghen, who competes in the same weight class as Hubbard, recently called the New Zealander's possible nomination a "bad joke". The situation is "unfair to the sport and the athletes".

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