Australian swimmer Emily Sibom waved off after a billboard used her image for a campaign against trans women in sports.
Both Swimming Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee are facing lawsuits over advertising that they said used images without permission.
Conservative lobby group Advance Australia showcased photos of Ms. Sibom and other swimmers Emma McKeon and Don Fraser along with the words, “Women’s sport is not for men.”
“I have no idea who Advance Australia is, but I don’t want my photo to be transphobic next to anything,” Ms. Sibom told The Project.
“This is a statement that I have never said or suggested and do not support, and … the photo is just awful! So for me, it’s just awful. “
The four-time Olympic backstroke champion said her past statements about women’s participation, which Advance Australia used to justify its billboard, were taken out of context.
“I have said many times that I do not want inclusiveness in this sport. I want everyone to feel involved in this sport, we just need to find out how it works and what it will look like, ”she said.
Advance Australia was founded in 2018 in response to the “awakening of politicians and groups of elite activists.”
Statements by media groups have largely supported Scott Morrison and the coalition, while attacking Labor and the Greens on issues including climate change.
Ms. Sibom said that the talk on how to make elite sports inclusive and fair for all is still ongoing, but people should be able to talk “freedom”.
“I want one hundred percent to have trans athletes in sports. It is difficult to have a conversation because we just don’t know where it is, ”she said.
“Whether it’s a race of women, men and transgender people, we don’t know yet, it’s something that needs to be discussed and we need to work out how to do it to make everyone feel safe and supported and the competition was fair in the end of the day. “
Distinguishing between public sports and top-level competitions such as the Olympics, Ms. Sibom noted that the difference between competitions among women and men at the top is large.
She said the man who finished 8th in her competition, 200m backstroke, would have won the women’s advantage by five to six seconds.
She said in the case of public-level sports the playing field was more even and could require a different approach.