Sunday, July 21, 2024

BBC plunged into ‘misogyny’ row after boss says sports stars ‘not experts’

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The BBC has found itself at the centre of a sexism row after former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies slammed its new sport’s cheif for “obvious misogyny” against her and tennis star Martina Navratilova.

Recently-appointed head of sport Alex Kay-Jelski wrote an article for The Times in 2019 saying that the two were “not experts” on the subject of trans athletes, despite being “important” and “influential”.

He also compared having separate categories for trans atheletes to having “special categories for Jamaican sprinters and Ethiopian marathon runners”, adding, “Sounds mad doesn’t it? Nasty, even”.

Davies, opposed trans women competing alongside cisgender women, responded by writing a letter to the BBC‘s director general Tim Davie demanding an “explanation” and accusing Kay-Jelski of making a “racist comment”.

She wrote on X: “I have written to Tim Davie at the BBC for an explanation of the obvious misogyny suggesting Martina and I with over a combined 100 years in elite women’s sport aren’t experts in women’s sport!

“Not a good look for the new head of BBC sport and respect for female athletes when world athletics, swimming, cycling and rugby also agree with us and protect fair sport for women from biological males.

“I take personal insult that this ill-informed man compared males in women’s sport to women from Ethiopia or Jamaica having an unfair advantage.”

Navratilova also responded to the piece, calling Kay-Jelski “pretty pathetic” after he blocked her on X over the controversial issue.

She wrote: “This is pretty pathetic – never heard of this man, looked him up here and found myself blocked. Once again, good to know that men apparently know what women like myself and Sharron know about biology and sports etc. Just amazing to be this confident, no?”

The issue has also got the attention of J.K. Rowling, who defended the two sports stars, calling Kay-Jelski’s assertion that they are not experts “unbelievable”.

She wrote: “I’d say it’s unbelievable for a man in his position to say these things at all, let alone block you, and yet, given the shameful state of the BBC‘s reporting on the women’s rights/gender issue, it’s utterly predictable.”

Davis will continue conducting poolside interviews for the BBC at the Paris Olympics taking place from July to August. Navratilova will also be part of the broadcasting company’s Wimbledon team.

Kay-Jelski was previously sports editor at The Times and editor-in-chief at The Athletic before beginning his new role at the BBC in April.

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