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A revision in Olympic qualification standards has set the stage for New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, a transgender woman, to qualify for the Tokyo Games, the New Zealand Olympic Committee announced Thursday.
Hubbard would be the first transgender person to compete in the Olympics if she makes it.
, the NZOC said the International Weightlifting Federation had revised its qualifications due to the impact of COVID-19, opening the door for Hubbard to head to Tokyo.
The NZOC's statement:
"The NZOC can confirm that revised International Federation (IF) qualification systems are very likely to see a number of New Zealand weightlifters, including Commonwealth Games transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard, allocated an IF quota spot for Tokyo 2020," the NZOC said in a statement.
"A previous requirement to attend six competition events has been reduced to four due to the impact of COVID-19."
The 43-year-old Hubbard had previously competed in men's weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013, per Reuters. She has reportedly been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015, when the IOC issued guidelines allowing transgender athletes to compete as a woman as long as their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before competing.
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The NZOC reportedly said it does not expect to formally nominate and select its weightlifting team until June.
Hubbard has been competing internationally for years, with a gold medal win in the 2019 Pacific Games and a sixth-place finish at the 2019 World Championships in the +87 kg division. Per, she currently ranks 16th in the world in her weight class for Olympic qualifying, and holds the top spot in Oceania by a narrow margin.
Hubbard's career has predictably been divisive, with fans and rival nations decrying her presence in the sport. Her silver medal win at the 2017 World Championships was, and a spot in the much more visible Olympics is basically guaranteed to fan the flames as transgender athletes become and elsewhere.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed legislation that puts public schools and their districts at risk of losing civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms that do not reflect their gender at birth. LGBTQ advocates have decried the legislation as discriminatory. It's the first bill restricting bathroom use by transgender people signed in any state in about five years, according to Wyatt Ronan, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. The Republican governor signed the bill Friday, cementing another policy into law this year in Tennessee that targets the transgender community.