Tokyo Olympics: Laurel Hubbard's Olympic inclusion 'devastating', says Australian women's group

NZ weightlifter Laurel Hubbard's potential selection for the Tokyo Olympics has drawn fierce opposition from an Australian group labelling her participation as "devastating".

Hubbard, 43, has been cleared to become the first transgender Olympian, after standards were relaxed due to COVID-19 affecting qualifying tournaments.

Inside the Games website reports Hubbard's world ranking of 16th will be enough to see her earn a spot, with at least six higher-ranked lifters unable to compete.

"For us, the current criteria says Laurel can compete, so that's how we're moving forward," Weightlifting NZ high performance director Simon Kent tells Newshub.

But while Hubbard's inclusion is supported within New Zealand, Australian-based group Save Women's Sport Australasia is protesting her participation, comparing it to doping.

"We divide sport by sex, age and capability to ensure fairness and player safety," says spokesperson Ro Edge. 

"We understand the desire to be inclusive of diversity, but this should not be at the expense of potential injuries and opportunities for biological women." 

"This decision signalled to the global sports community that it is the feelings of male athletes that take precedence over female athletes. The downstream impact on sports organisations and community sports is devastating.  

"This is tantamount to the IOC saying that they know this absurd manner of performance enhancement is happening - that it greatly exceeds the doping advantage - but it is 'neither fair, nor ethical or legally admissible' to consider stopping this particular form of doping before the Tokyo Olympic Games.

"Biological females have the express right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their sex in relation to opportunities to participate actively and equally in sports. 

"Allowing biological males to compete in the female division removes the basis of equality between men and women."

Issued in 2015, International Olympic Committee guidelines state that athletes who identify as female can compete in the women's category, provided their total testosterone level in serum is kept below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months. 

Hubbard's inclusion has met with previous resistance from across the Tasman. Before the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the Australian Weightlifting Federation sought to block her from competing, but organisers rejected the move.

Hubbard, who won a 2017 world championship silver medal, is awaiting official New Zealand Olympic Committee selection for Tokyo.