A transgender weightlifter from New Zealand appears to be on track to be the first openly transgender Olympic athlete.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee said in a statement it is “very likely” Hubbard, 43, will qualify for a spot at the Olympics by the May 31 deadline, according to NBC. If he does, the committee will decide in June whether to nominate him to the Olympic team.
Despite reports saying modified qualification rules in light of the coronavirus pandemic made Hubbard’s selection a sure bet, the committee did not commit to his selection.
“We are not in a position to comment on the likelihood of any athlete’s selection until we have the necessary evidence,” the statement from the NZOC said.
Weightlifters are selected by the committee based on their scores in qualifying events and the likelihood they will place in the top eight in the Tokyo Games. As of now, Hubbard is ranked 16th in the world, which makes his selection likely.
The competing events will not be completed until the end of May, and the International Olympic Committee recently approved extending the deadline for qualifying until after those events.
IOC guidelines adopted in 2015 allow men to compete as women if their testosterone level is below a limit set by the committee and is maintained below that level for a year.
Transgender New Zealander Laurel Hubbard has effectively been guaranteed a spot in the women’s super heavyweight category in the Tokyo Olympic Games. https://t.co/e7Pg58NnFp
— NBC Out (@NBCOUT) May 6, 2021
Hubbard won silver at the 2017 World Championships and a gold medal at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, where he defeated Samoa’s Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers, according to Reuters.
The 2019 victory brought controversy in its wake after Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi objected to Hubbard entering the competition as a woman.
He said Hubbard “should have never been allowed by the Pacific Games Council president to lift with the women,” according to the Samoa Observer. “I was shocked when I first heard.”
“No matter how we look at it, he’s a man and it’s shocking this was allowed in the first place,” he said.
Solidarity to the kiwi woman who lost out on selection and the women that place below Laurel Hubbard at Tokyo. This is wrong. https://t.co/7SekXpmvuV
— Harty (@ghhart) May 5, 2021
Laurel Hubbard is a biological male. This is a fact.
She shouldn’t be allowed to compete in female sports.
What message does this send women if we allow men to take over their sports?
— Carla #ResignJacinda (@Sully30Carla) May 6, 2021
— Caroline ffiske (@carolinefff) May 6, 2021
According to Reuters, Australia’s weightlifting federation tried to have Hubbard banned from competition for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but failed in that attempt.
USA Weightlifting spokesman Kevin Farley sidestepped any controversy over Hubbard.
“We respect the rules established by the International Weightlifting Federation and the International Olympic Committee for qualification and will be focusing on assisting our athletes to compete against all those who are qualified for the Tokyo Games,” he said in a statement.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.