Representatives of member unions voted on it at an extraordinary congress in Budapest on Sunday. There were 196 votes in favor, 42 against and 36 abstentions.
The vote was taken after the congress participants heard reports from a working group composed of doctors, lawyers and sports personalities. FINA did not completely rule out the participation of transgender athletes in women’s competitions. However, they must undergo a gender reassignment within 12 years.
Aquatics Integrity Unit members elected, new gender inclusion policy adopted during the FINA Extraordinary Congress in Budapest 👇https://t.co/04Row3OLjf
– FINA (@ fina1908) June 19, 2022
“I do not want athletes to be told that they cannot compete at the highest level,” said FINA President Hussein Musallam. “We will set up a working group to create an open category during our competitions. We will be the first federation to do so,” the Kuwaiti official added.
Two delegates from Sweden and New Zealand questioned this approach, saying that it would be difficult for anyone to decide to take such a crucial step in life within the age of 12. Musallam replied that he would pass this objection to the working group.
“We must protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we must also protect the fairness of the competitions at our events, especially in the women’s category,” Musallam said.
The starts of transgender athletes among swimmers began to be intensively debated after American Lia Thomas won the women’s 500-yard race at the NCAA University Championship after a gender reassignment in March this year. The participation of New Zealand transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard at last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo sparked similar debates.