AOC says transgender eligibility rules depend on sports

The Australian Olympic Committee says it will let transgender women’s eligibility to compete in women’s sports be determined by individual sports, in accordance with International Olympic Committee guidelines.

The future of transgender women in elite sports has been thrust into the spotlight after FINA, swimming’s world governing body, voted to effectively ban transgender swimmers from elite women’s competitions.

Swimming is the first Olympic sport to adopt such an edict and it has caused a chain reaction elsewhere.

The International Rugby League has barred transgender athletes from sanctioned international matches, including this year’s Rugby League Women’s World Cup in England.

FIFA, World Athletics and the World Netball Federation are reviewing their respective policies.

Last year, the IOC revised its guidelines on inclusion with a new framework that advises athletes should not be excluded from competition for “perceived” unfair advantage, but ultimately left it up to sports federations to decide the rules.

The AOC will follow the example of the world Olympic body.

“What we need to constantly focus on is the fact that sport needs to be inclusive,” said AOC President Ian Chesterman.

“We need to create opportunities for all young Australians and in particular if you come from a marginalized group we need to encourage you to use sport as part of your development and growth.

“There comes a point where we go from being involved in sport to a point in elite competition where you need to have fair competition and each sport will decide how to achieve that balance.

“The IOC is really the body that is taking the lead on this rather than a national Olympic Committee and has put in place a framework that says respect has to be part of it, inclusion has to be part of it, but justice has to be part of it.

“So you have to balance all of those things as we go down the road of the sport from someone just starting out to someone who is in the Olympics or Paralympics.”

AOC chief executive Matt Carroll also stressed that the Australian body’s “general” policy would be to follow the IOC framework and said it could not be a “one size fits all” situation due to the differences between the sports.

Chesterman said that so far he had not received much feedback from Olympians on FINA’s decision.

Both Chesterman and Carroll, speaking on Olympic Day, were confident that Australia’s Olympic movement remained a welcoming and inclusive place for transgender women, and stressed the importance of keeping the current conversation respectful.

“Everyone is welcome in the sport, absolutely,” Carroll said.

“There are 46 sports and everyone can find a place in an Olympic sport, no doubt, and they are very welcome.”

-AAP

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