In Racism

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games drew to a close on 8 August, but the repercussions of its racist, transphobic policies continue to impact the lives of Black athletes.

By Sophia Purdy-Moore

Published on The Canary, Aug 12, 2021
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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games drew to a close on 8 August, but the repercussions of its racist, transphobic policies continue to impact the lives of Black athletes.

Over the course of the games, we saw organisers promoting discriminatory policies that pander to Eurocentricity at the expense of Black athletes – particularly Black women. This came as no surprise, as racism and white supremacy have played a central role in the development of the games. If the International Olympic Committee (IOC) really does want to “build a better world through sport”, it must challenge its inherent racism and transphobia to ensure that Black women can participate fully in future games.

Transphobia and misogynoir

On 3 August, former Polish sprinter Marcin Urbaś requested that Olympic organisers test 18-year-old Namibian runner Christine Mbomba “to find out if she definitely is a woman”. In July, World Athletics banned Mboma – along with her teammate Beatrice Masilingi – from running in the 400m race at the Tokyo 2020 games because of their “naturally high testosterone levels”.

In September 2020, the Swiss supreme court ruled that Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya would not be allowed to compete unless she takes hormone-suppressing drugs or undergoes “surgical interventions”. World Athletics has since used this ruling against Kenyan runners Maximila Imali, Evangeline Makena, and Magaret Wambui; Burundian runner Francine Niyonsaba; Ugandan runner Annet Negesa, and Nigerian sprinter Aminatou Seyni.

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