New Zealand’s PM throws her support behind transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard and argues she has every right to be included in the Tokyo Olympic team
- Jacinda Ardern backs transgender weightlifter’s Olympic selection
- Laurel Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics
- Selection has reignited a debate over the appropriate criteria for trans athletes
- She will compete in the 87 kilogram-plus super heavyweight division in Tokyo
- Find out the latest Tokyo Olympic news including schedule, medal table and results right here
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has backed the selection of trailblazing athlete Laurel Hubbard in New Zealand’s Olympic team, saying she goes to Tokyo with the country’s full support.
Ms Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics after winning selection in New Zealand’s weightlifting team.
Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard (pictured) will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics after meeting eligibility requirements
The 43-year-old met multiple eligibility standards set by the sport, the International Olympic Committee, and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
Her selection has reignited a debate over the appropriate criteria for trans athletes but Ms Ardern said Ms Hubbard should be treated like any other Kiwi.
‘Laurel is a member of our Olympic team and has support from us,’ she said.
‘All parties here have simply followed the rules. That’s the case for Laurel but also the team in New Zealand, they have followed the rules.’
Sport Minister Grant Robertson said he was ‘extremely proud of Laurel Hubbard as I am of all of New Zealand’s Olympic team’.
‘She deserves to be there and we’ll be supporting her,’ he said.
Ms Hubbard was also praised by conservative opposition leader Judith Collins, who noted the debate around the weightlifter’s inclusion but offered her personal support amidst a backlash.
‘Anybody who gets chosen to be an Olympic team member has already gone through a tremendous amount. I’m in awe of anybody who can get to that level,’ Ms Collins said.
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) says Hubbard ‘goes to Tokyo with country’s full support’
‘She is who she is and she’s trying to do her very best. I’d hate to see any bullying or any horrible comments about Laurel because she’s doing what she wants to do.’
Ms Hubbard was the first transgender athlete to compete at the Commonwealth Games when she appeared in 2018 at the Gold Coast.
Despite injuring her elbow and wrist during that competition, she said the Australian crowd was ‘magnificent’.
‘It felt like just a big embrace. They really made me try to lift my best,’ she said in 2018.
‘The Commonwealth Games here are a model for what sport can and should be. It’s an incredible environment … they have lived up to the mantra of humanity, equality and decency.’
Ms Hubbard (pictured) was the first transgender athlete to compete at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018
She will compete in the 87 kilogram-plus super heavyweight division in Tokyo.
Ms Hubbard issued a statement after her selection was confirmed on Monday saying she was ‘grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders’.
‘The mana of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride,’ she said.
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