The International Olympic Committee announced plans Tuesday to formally adopt a new human rights protocol after unanimously changing its procedures about transgender athletes at the latest IOC conference.
“I am encouraged by the result of today’s session,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement. “This is an important development for the Olympic Movement as the IOC now has a specific model for athletes and officials seeking to access the Games, and this will help athletes and officials from all over the world to access the Games under the IOC protection.
“From here on the journey to bring the Olympic Agenda 2020 forward continues, from the individual levels through to the IOC Executive Board and through to the Olympic Games. The IGF, the modern day Olympic Parliament, in the end will be for all the world, and the IOC offers athletes and officials the highest protection, respect and quality service with the support of the International Olympic Committee and all our partners.”
Beginning in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, athletes with gender reassignment surgery are eligible to compete for the host country’s national Olympic committees — though transgender athletes can still have their gender on their passports or identity documents changed in all Olympic nations.
Under the new model, the IOC will only ask athletes and officials to fill out a two-part process when applying for recognition to compete:
1. Registering. The athlete or official must sign a commitment to the Olympic Movement by explicitly declaring the athlete is compliant with the Olympic Charter as required by Article 19 (1) “Transsexualism is incompatible with membership.” The athlete or official may also verify his or her registration to the IOC by completing a full Statement of Identity with the IOC confirming the athlete’s gender.
2. Review. The athlete must provide an additional copy of the completed Statement of Identity confirming the athlete’s gender, unless the athlete is in a position to use a valid passport or other form of official identity. If the athlete’s passport or other official identity is valid, he or she may complete a Complete Review of the athlete’s signature. The IOC will note that the athlete’s gender is compliant with the Olympic Charter.
“I’m very proud of the new framework,” said Swiss President Simon Schüller, who chairs the IOC Executive Board, in an official statement. “The new International Olympic Committee Human Rights Protocol is an important step forward towards recognizing transgender athletes. We will now welcome an increasing number of athletes from all over the world who wish to compete in the Olympic Games.”
The IOC also clarified that transgender athletes will be allowed to compete in all events – regardless of gender or gender expression, and the first examples of transgender athletes were those transitioning in advance of the 2018 Winter Olympics. The rules take effect from September 1, 2018 and will apply for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Athletes are eligible to compete only as their appointed or recognized gender.