IOC Praises First Ever Transgender Weightlifting Olympian | 22 Words

The International Olympic Committee has praised Laurel Hubbard as she prepares to become the first transgender weightlifter to compete at the Olympics.

IOC medical and scientific director Dr. Richard Budgett praised Hubbard for her "courage and tenacity" ahead of her competition next week.

Hubbard will be the first openly transgender weightlifting Olympian and only the second ever to compete at an Olympic Games after non-binary Canadian footballer Quinn became the first, just this week.

As per the Guardian, Budgett praised the forty-two-year-old New Zealander while explaining there are "no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation."

"To put it in a nutshell, the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015," he said. "There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games."

Getty Images

But, while Budgett praised Hubbard for her participation, he also admitted that he believes the issue of trans participation in sports is "very difficult."

"There are lots of aspects of physiology and anatomy, and the mental side, that contributes to elite performance. It's very difficult to say, 'yes, she has an advantage because she went through male puberty,' when there are so many other factors to take into account," he said.

"It's not simple. Each sport has to make their own assessment depending on the physiology of that sport so that they can ensure there is fair competition, but also the inclusion of everyone – whether they're male or female – so they are able to take part in the sport they love."

It comes after Hubbard's participation received criticism among some people. While some mark her participation as a historic moment for transgender rights, others have claimed she has an unfair advantage.

While speaking about how the IOC has delayed updating its 2015 guidelines because finding a consensus has proved so difficult, Budgett also pushed back on the criticism of trans women to competing in women's sport, stating "everyone agrees that trans women are women."

"There is a lot of disagreement across the whole world of sport and beyond on this issue of eligibility," said Budgett. "Everyone agrees transgender women are women. But it's a matter of eligibility for sport and particular events, and it really has to be very sport-specific.

"One of the reasons there is no new framework published yet is not just because of the difficulty in coming to any consensus. It's because it would have been inappropriate to come out with new guidelines just before the Olympics. There will be a new framework to help individual sports and we're working very closely with them, but it's not published yet."

Hubbard will compete in the women's 87KG weightlifting on Monday.