Australian gold medalist Seebohm backs FINA determination on transgender swimmers

Emily Seebohm

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Swimming – Women’s 200m Backstroke – Semifinal 1 – Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Tokyo, Japan – July 30, 2021. Emily Seebohm of Australia reacts after successful REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

MELBOURNE – Australian Olympic gold medalist Emily Seebohm has welcomed FINA’s determination to limit the participation of transgender athletes in elite girls’s swimming, saying the game might now transfer on with certainty.

FINA made the choice at its extraordinary normal congress (EGC) on Sunday after members heard a report from a transgender process pressure comprising main medical, authorized and sports activities figures.

Five-time world champion Seebohm, who gained a medley relay gold medal for Australia ultimately yr’s Tokyo Games, stated the choice would encourage swimmers to remain within the sport.

“I’m finally happy that we have a decision, and we know where the sport’s going and what we’re going to be doing,” the 30-year-old advised Sky News Australia on Monday.

“We simply didn’t know what was going to occur and after we simply don’t know, it’s laborious to commit absolutely to our sport if we do not know the path it’s going to go.

“We can all move on. We can all just go back to the sport that we love … and know that we’re getting in the pool and it’s going to be a fair, level playing field and that’s what we want.”

Athlete Ally, an advocacy group for LGBTQI+ folks in sport, stated FINA’s determination was “discriminatory” and “harmful”.

“If we truly want to protect women’s sports, we must include all women,” they stated in a submit on Twitter.

Transgender rights has change into a serious speaking level as sports activities search to stability inclusion with equity.

The debate intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas grew to become the primary transgender NCAA champion in Division I historical past after successful the ladies’s 500-yard freestyle earlier this yr.

FINA stated it is going to create a working group to determine an “open” class for them in some occasions as a part of its new coverage.

‘Fair and safe’

Several high Australian feminine swimmers have raised considerations about competing in opposition to transgender athletes.

Four-times Olympic champion Cate Campbell advised FINA’s EGC that she supported a restriction on transgender athletes competing in girls’s classes and urged folks to “listen to the science and experts”.

“Women, who have fought long and hard to be included and seen as equals in sport, can only do so because of the gender category distinction,” Campbell stated earlier than delegates voted in favor of the ban.

“To remove that distinction would be to the detriment of female athletes everywhere.”

However, Madeline Groves, a former nationwide champion swimmer who gained a butterfly silver medal on the 2016 Rio Games, took exception to Campbell’s feedback and was scathing of FINA’s ruling.

“You’re okay with ostracising an already marginalised group? Real accepting,” the 27-year-old Australian stated on social media.

“Shame on everyone that supported this discriminatory and unscientific decision.”

Australian girls gained eight of the nation’s 9 gold medals on the Tokyo pool.

The Australian Olympic Committee additionally backed FINA’s determination, saying sports activities have been sure to make sure participation was “fair and safe.”

“While inclusivity must be respected, fairness in competition is a core value of sport,” a spokesman stated.

“FINA has made a decision based on the circumstances in the sport of swimming to achieve that balance.”


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