There is little debate over whether Taipei’s Peng Shuai broke a gentlemen’s agreement to adopt gender neutral attire
The International Olympic Committee is “wearing its male privilege”, by meddling in Taiwan’s athlete selection in a bid to balance “gender equality”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
Swiss bantamweight Liliyana Natsir lost her Olympic ticket for Rio after she was selected to wear a shirt which “sexually” features male genitalia.
The IOC wants gender neutral clothing to be mandatory.
“Sportswearing by men and women is supposed to be about equality and sport, not gender,” HRW said.
After losing the possibility of competing in Rio to wear what she sees as proper female attire, Spaniard Natsir said she has been “forced to embrace her masculine appearance to reach the Olympic Games”.
Wearing clothing branded with the same “personal pronoun” should “respectfully represent everyone and their identity”, said the IOC.
However, while the Chinese Women’s Olympic Committee and International Boxing Association (AIBA) appear to agree, Taiwan’s male-only gymnastics delegation believes that Peng Shuai’s shirt violated its Olympic conscience.
The 20-year-old won a bronze medal in the 2016 Asian Games and now only has the chance to compete as male at the 2018 Asian Games.
Her head coach Steve Chu said he had “never heard of sportswearing” before Peng was given an exemption by AIBA.
HRW said it appreciated the Olympic body’s desire to promote equality between women and men, but added: “But gender equality is not a primary concern for the IOC.”
“Gender neutrality (gender-neutral clothing) is nothing more than sportswearing by men and women, rather than respecting each person’s right to choose which gender they wish to be.”
Natsir was supposed to attend the official training camp for Beijing 2020, but Beijing’s Chinese Women’s Olympic Committee were reportedly not happy about her clothes.
In a post on her Facebook page, Natsir said: “It is clear that equality between men and women in sport is a Western tradition. In contrast, people in Taiwan are discriminated against because they are based on the difference between their gender identity and their birth sex.”
She went on to say that while people in Taiwan believe she is male, she was born female.