Lia Thomas Banned from Competing against Women after Rule Change, FINA Sets Up New ‘Open’ Category Instead

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas will no longer be allowed to compete in women’s events and must instead swim in the “open” category.

FINA, the world governing body for swimming, just voted by a large margin to change its policies on transgender swimmers.

Under the new rules, transgender athletes can only compete in women’s races if they completed their transition by the age of 12.

The new rule was passed by a 71% majority of all members.

It will effectively ban Lia Thomas from competing against women but the rule will create a new “open category” so transgender athletes can compete against one another.

The FINA President said “FINA will always welcome every athlete,” and the “creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level.

FINA released a statement that said:

“FINA Member Federations voted today in support of a new FINA policy on gender inclusion presented at the FINA Extraordinary General Congress 2022.

“The vote, which was 71.5 percent in favor of the new policy, took place after Congress heard speeches from representatives of a working group that was set up in November 2021.

“This working group consisted of three specialist groups – an athlete group, a science and medicine group, and a legal and human rights group.

“After analyzing the conclusions of these groups, FINA developed a new policy that will apply at all FINA events.

“The policy will also be followed for world record ratification, wherever the competition took place.

“Included in the policy are proposals for an open competition category.

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“FINA will establish a new working group that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to set up this new category.

“Commenting on the policy, FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said;

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions.”

The FINA President added:

“FINA will always welcome every athlete.

“The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level.

“This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way.

“I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process.”

“The new FINA gender inclusion policy comes into effect on 20 June 2022.”

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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