Princess Anne Was Exempted from 'Gender Testing' When She Went to the Olympics

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XXI Olympic Summer Games
XXI Olympic Summer Games

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Princess Anne made history in 1976 as the first British royal to compete in the Olympics.

At the time, according to Reuters, the Princess Royal was excused from the so-called "gender testing" other female athletes were mandated to undergo when she competed in the 1976 Montreal Games. More details were not provided around the circumstances of how or why Anne — who was a competitor on a mixed-sex equestrian team — was exempted.

Per Reuters, gender testing was first introduced ahead of the 1968 Games in Mexico City, then deemed unnecessary in the early 1990s and suspended by the International Olympic Committee before the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The conversation around female athletes' abilities in regard to their gender has been fraught in the last several years, with two-time Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya being barred from the 2020 Tokyo Games for having naturally higher testosterone levels than the other women against whom she was racing.

It's an ongoing conversation in which rulings vary from sport to sport, with New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard becoming the first openly transgender Olympic athlete.

Laurel Hubbard
Laurel Hubbard

Stanislav KrasilnikovTASS via Getty

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For her part, Princess Anne had been an accomplished equestrian since age 11. She competed in the European Championships twice, winning an individual gold in 1971 and a silver in the same event four years later, as well as a silver medal in team competition in 1975.

The next year, she joined Team GB in the three-day equestrian Eventing competition at the Montreal Olympics, riding on Queen Elizabeth's horse Goodwill. Anne's quest for the podium was disrupted when she suffered a concussion in the midst of a course, though she did recover and complete her run. Ultimately, Great Britain did not take home a medal in Anne's chosen sport.

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Anne, 70, remains a member of the International Olympic Committee today and serves as president of the British Olympic Association.

Though she did not attend this year's games in Tokyo, she released a video on July 19 via the official Royal Family account wishing Great Britain's Olympic athletes "every success."

"I do remember from my own Olympic journey, the anticipation and excitement of stepping onto the Olympic stage," she said. "I know that you have all worked incredibly hard for this moment, during the most challenging of times. This is your Olympics.... Savor it, and above all, enjoy it."

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