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By Stewart Perrie
Several Olympic commentators have attracted heavy criticism for repeatedly mis-gendering an athlete at the Tokyo Games.
Alana Smith made history by being the first non-binary competitor at an Olympic level and competed in the skateboarding street event.
While they took part in the women's event, they still go by the they/them pronouns, which is something Todd Harris and Paul Zitzer for NBC Sports and Marc Churchill and Ed Leigh for the BBC must have missed.
These commentators were accused of continually using the female she/her pronouns while narrating Alana's performance.
I was wondering if the commentators would f up Alana Smith's pronouns.- Nikita (@kryptobanana) July 26, 2021
Yup as expected :/
FYI: they/them --- literally written on their board
It really is pretty garbage hearing NBC commentators repeatedly misgendering Alana Smith when they literally have they/them on their board. pic.twitter.com/q6aJqOPESb- Erin, Sundresses Mom (@ErinInTheMorn) July 26, 2021
Their wording was called out by people on social media, especially considering the Olympian has 'they/them' written on their skateboard.
American transgender journalist Britni de la Cretaz wrote on Twitter: "This is journalistic malpractice. No one should have to be misgendered on an international stage like this. Sports doesn't know what to do with non-binary athletes.
"Shoutout to Alana Smith, the first openly non-binary athlete to represent the U.S. in an Olympic Games."
The backlash was so severe that NBC has issued a formal apology on behalf of the commentators.
"NBC Sports is committed to - and understands the importance of - using correct pronouns for everyone across our platforms," the statement said.
"While our commentators used the correct pronouns in our coverage, we streamed an international feed that was not produced by NBCUniversal which misgendered Olympian Alana Smith. We regret this error and apologize to Alana and our viewers."
Alana sadly didn't qualify for the medal round however they still feel like a winner for competing in the Tokyo Games.
They have penned an emotional message on Instagram to all their fans, thanking them for their support and for keeping them motivated through the most intense sporting event of the year.
Alana said: "What a wild f***ing ride. My goal coming into this was to be happy and be a visual representation for humans like me.
"For the first time in my entire life, I'm proud of the person I've worked to become. I chose my happiness over medaling. Out of everything I've done, I wanted to walk out of this knowing I UNAPOLOGETICALLY was myself and was genuinely smiling.
"The feeling in my heart says I did that."
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