New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to make history by becoming the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games amid fierce backlash online.
The 43-year-old's case to compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics was strengthened after rules were changed under the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2015.
Under the rule changes, the IOC allows athletes who have transitioned from male to female to compete in women's competitions without needing surgery to remove their testes.
However, athletes must ensure their total testosterone level remains below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before a competition starts.
Hubbard will now be able to challenge for an Olympic medal in the women's super-heavyweight category on 2nd August.
"I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders," she said in a statement.
"When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end.
"But your support, your encouragement and your 'aroha' [affection] carried me through the darkness.
"The last 18 months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community and in working together towards a common purpose. The 'mana' [honour] of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride."
Hubbard's involvement at Tokyo 2020 has sparked controversy on social media amid calls for female athletes to boycott the competition.
However, others took to social media to support the decision to allow Hubbard to compete.
The New Zealand weightlifter went through male puberty before she transitioned in 2012.
And Hubbard competed at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships and won a silver medal.
She was forced to pull out of the 2018 Commonwealth Games after suffering a major elbow injury, but she would later win two gold medals at the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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