IOC changes transgender athlete policy to make it easier for transgender women to compete

The International Olympic Committee announced a new guideline Tuesday in order to make it easier for athletes who are transgender to compete.

The new guidelines ensure that transgender athletes meet the same sporting standards as other athletes by affirming any requests to participate in the games.

The IOC issued its announcement the same day the International Gymnastics Federation announced the decision to ban male-to-female transgender gymnasts from competing in women’s gymnastics events.

The International Olympic Committee said it would have no objection to transgender female athletes competing in men’s events, but the federation is concerned about the handling of blood tests and drug abuse.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said there have been “hurdles” to clear concerning the handling of transgender female athletes.

“Where you are transgender and you are a woman, we are absolutely happy with that situation,” Adams said. “So if there is a female athlete who is a transsexual, who is a woman by birth and identifies as a woman, then absolutely we would have no problem with that. There are some barriers to make sure we don’t have abuse, but for a transgender woman they are completely welcome to compete if they are female by birth.”

The new regulations also add gender identity questions to what is routinely asked at the entrance to Olympic venues when the athlete has been let in. It will also require that teams competing as one compete by combining the gender on the athlete’s passport, the qualifying document, with that on the team’s passport to avoid conflicts.

Adams said IOC President Thomas Bach asked for the revisions during a visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January.

“We will never start from a ruling against anybody, whether it’s the transgender athlete or anybody else,” Adams said. “We try to make the rules to enable everybody to participate in the Olympic Games without discrimination. I don’t think we’re changing the rules for anyone, but at the same time not needing to have a gender paper. We are very clear on what needs to be done.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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