SA still fighting for Caster Semenya's Olympic participation, turns to European Human Rights court

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Caster Semenya (Getty Images)
Caster Semenya (Getty Images)

South Africa's government is still fighting for Caster Semenya's participation at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, escalating her matter to the European Court of Human Rights.

That was the big news to come out of Tuesday's portfolio committee meeting of the department of Sports, Arts and Culture where South Africa's preparedness for the Tokyo Olympics, which is scheduled to get underway on July 23, was discussed. 

According to a statement released after the meeting, Semenya's matter will be in the hands of the Court by next month. 

"The committee was briefed by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Athletics South Africa (ASA," the statement read.

"It heard that the matter concerning South Africa’s 800m world champion, Caster Semenya, is being brought before the European Court of Human Rights on appeal.

"Papers will be filed in March."

ASA president, Aleck Skosana, confirmed that at this stage Semenya had not been included in South Africa’s provisional Olympic squad.

The chairperson of the committee, Beauty Dlulane, said that most countries would like to see Semenya participate in the Games, an aspiration that is being frustrated by "rules and guidelines".

"We are concerned that this has affected Caster’s preparation," she added.

"This issue of rules unjustly disadvantages Caster and denies her rights to participation and qualification, and the committee’s view is that those rules are unfair."

Dlulane added that, in her belief, the world was still grappling with inclusiveness and it is only fair that Semenya be allowed to race in her favourite 800m distance.

ASA told the committee that it has received support from Sweden and it is hopeful that Semenya will win her appeal.

Under World Athletics' current regulations, Semenya and any female athletes competing in the 400m, 800m and 1 500m distances who have what are considered elevated levels of testosterone will be required to take hormone-enhancing drugs to lower those levels. 

Semenya has since appealed the decision unsuccessfully at the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.  

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