World Swimming Body FINA Votes to Restrict Participation of Transgender Athletes in Elite Competitions | New
The decision was taken at FINA’s Extraordinary General Congress on the sidelines of the world championships in Budapest after members heard a report from a transgender task force made up of leading medical, legal and sports figures.
Last update: 06/19/22 4:44 p.m.
Swimming’s world governing body FINA has voted to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions and create a working group to establish an “open” category.
The decision was taken at FINA’s Extraordinary General Congress on the sidelines of the world championships in Budapest after members heard a report from a transgender task force made up of medical, legal and sports figures.
The new policy will require transgender competitors to have completed their transition by the age of 12 in order to compete in women’s competitions.
The policy was adopted with a majority of around 71% after being submitted to members of 152 national voting federations who had gathered for the congress at the Puskas Arena.
Transgender rights have become a major talking point as the sport seeks to balance inclusivity while ensuring there is no unfair advantage.
The debate intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle earlier this year .
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete in the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Bach: No one-size-fits-all approach for transgender athletes
Sport cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to transgender inclusion, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in May.
Controversies over the participation of transgender athletes in women’s categories have made headlines in cycling, swimming, weightlifting and other sports over the past year.
Olympic cycling champion Katie Archibald last month criticized her sport’s world governing body, the UCI, for its transgender policy, with trans athlete Emily Bridges ultimately barred from the British Open Championships.
Lord Coe, the chairman of World Athletics, said the integrity of women’s sport was “fragile” if the federations failed.
There have been calls to create an open category that transgender athletes could enter.
Bach said the IOC has and will continue to help sport make “science-based decisions”.
He told a press conference in May: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. I think we all agree that it’s about creating fair competition. At the level local, sport must be inclusive, everyone must have access to sport.
“When it comes to competition as a sport, we need to ensure fair competition. That means you need to find out sport by sport, or even discipline by discipline, where there may be an unfair advantage.
“You cannot compare an athlete in equestrian sports with a weightlifter for example. You cannot even compare in athletics a hammer thrower with a 5,000 meter runner. And that is why the IOC has established guidelines, how to make that decision, how to assess where there is maybe an unfair advantage and where there isn’t.
“And these guidelines, they say very clearly that all of these decisions have to be based on scientific evidence.
“That is the approach, and now we are in contact with different international federations to give them the necessary interpretations whenever they need it, to also provide them with the names of experts that they can consult.