New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern backs selection of transgender lifters for Tokyo Games

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern backs selection of transgender lifters for Tokyo Games

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday defended the choice of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard for the Tokyo Olympics, a choice that has fuelled a debate over inclusion and fairness in sport.

Hubbard will become the primary transgender athlete to compete at the Games after she was selected for the New Zealand team within the women's super-heavyweight 87 kg category.

The 43-year-old's inclusion has been divisive together with her supporters welcoming the choice while critics have questioned the fairness of transgender athletes competing against women.

"Parties here have simply followed the principles . that is the case for Laurel but also the team in New Zealand - they need followed the principles ," Ardern told reporters in Wellington.

"The alternative is to possess someone who followed the principles on the other hand is denied the power to participate.

"So, ultimately, I leave it to those bodies and that is the choice they need made and it's keep with the quality that has been set globally".

Hubbard, who are going to be the oldest lifter at the Games, competed in men's weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued guidelines in 2015 allowing transgender athletes to compete as women provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for a minimum of 12 months before their first competition.

Some scientists have said the rules do little to mitigate the biological advantages of these who have skilled puberty as males, like bone and muscle density.

Supporters of transgender inclusion argue the method of transition decreases that advantage considerably which physical differences between athletes mean there's never a very level playing field in sport.

Australia's weightlifting federation tried to dam Hubbard from competing within the women's event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but has been supportive of her selection for Tokyo.

Australian lifter Charisma Amoe-Tarrant, who will compete against Hubbard within the 87 kg division, wished Hubbard well.

"I have such a lot respect for her and ... hope we will all close and luxuriate in the Olympics," the Nauru-born 22-year-old told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.


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