A rival of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has said her inclusion in this year’s Olympics is ‘like a bad joke.’
New Zealand native Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete in Olympic history should she take part in Tokyo.
Less than two months away from the competition however, fellow weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen has slammed Hubbard’s involvement, claiming the inclusion of transgender athletes should not come ‘at the expense of others.’
Vanbellinghen told insidethegames per UNILAD: “First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community, and that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of rejection of this athlete’s identity […]
Image Credit: PA
“However, anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.
“I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes, the whole thing feels like a bad joke.”
Vanbellinghen competes in the same +87kg division as Hubbard, who has been eligible for the competition since 2015 following a rule change.
Hubbard competed in in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013.
Many of her rivals have argued she would have an ‘unfair’ advantage.
Image Credit: PA
The International Olympic Committee issued new guidelines allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s events provided they agree to have their testosterone levels monitored monthly in the year before their first competition.
Fellow New Zealander Tracey Lambrechs has also been critical of Hubbard being allowed to compete.
She told TVNZ per Daily Mail: “I’m quite disappointed, quite disappointed for the female athlete who will lose out on that spot.
“We’re all about equality for women in sport but right now that equality is being taken away from us.
Transgender women have been eligible to compete at the Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games, but at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard could become the first. pic.twitter.com/KimjGJ8ZOj
– On Her Turf (@OnHerTurf) May 26, 2021
“I’ve had female weightlifters come up to me and say, ‘what do we do? This isn’t fair, what do we do?’. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do because every time we voice it we get told to be quiet.”