Words: Alastair James; pictures: Twitter/@BBCSport
BBC Sport account has promised to block and report social media users promoting hate after a tweet about Laurel Hubbard competing in the Tokyo Olympics prompted an outpouring of abuse.
The broadcaster reminded followers it wants its social media accounts to be places for discussion after people began commenting in regard to Hubbard, who has become first trans woman to compete in the Games.
Hubbard’s involvement in the games has caused fierce debate about inclusion and fairness in sport. The 43-year-old weightlifter from New Zealand was elimated from the women's 87kg competition on Monday (2 August) after failing to register a lift.
“We want our platforms to be a respectful place”
After posting an article on Laurel Hubbard ahead of her appearance in Tokyo, the BBC Sport Twitter account soon had to post a second statement warning against offensive and hateful views.
The statement reads: “At BBC Sport, we want our platforms to be a respectful place for discussion, constructive criticism, debate and opinion. We know the vast majority of our followers want that too. So here’s our stance:
“We will block people bringing hate to our comments sections; We will report the most serious cases to the relevant authorities; We will work to make our accounts kind and respectful places.
“We will keep growing our coverage of all sports, and keep covering issues and discussions around equality in sport.”
They also used the hashtag “#HateWontWin”
The update has led to a barrage of comments from users with many accusing the BBC of 'censoring free speech', 'confusing the facts' and 'misogyny.' Many also claimed they would be cancelling their TV licences.
On Friday, the International Olympic Committee’s Medical and Scientific director said the “threat” of trans women competing at the Olympic Games has "probably been overstated".
Dr Richard Budget has also reportedly said that while the IOC believed that the rules governing the inclusion of trans athletes needed updating - and that a new framework could be expected within two months - the "important thing to remember is that trans women are women".
But he said the rules might need updating.
Hubbard had met the criteria set by the IOC in 2015. The guidelines stated athletes with testosterone levels below 10 nanomoles per litre for 12 months were allowed to compete. However, many argued that her taking part, especially in a women’s category, was “unfair” given she had gone through male puberty prior to transitioning.
Regardless of the haters, Hubbard has made history as the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics. She took to the floor on Monday (2 August) but was unable to register a lift and has been knocked out.
Leaving the stage she clasped her hands in a love heart shape towards the camera and thanked her supporters.
Congrats to Laurel!
The Attitude Body Issue is out now.