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The Week Unwrapped: Trans sport, fragrant friends and lost data

Can women’s sport be both fair and inclusive? Do we choose friends based on how they smell? And is Big Data putting us at risk of big losses?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

You can subscribe to The Week Unwrapped wherever you get your podcasts:

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Trans women in sport

The world governing body for swimming, Fina, announced a ban this week on trans women competing at elite events if they started going through puberty as a man. This set off a chain reaction of other sports reviewing their policies, with rugby league introducing a ban and Fifa and World Athletics reconsidering their approach to trans competitors. Is there a way through the increasingly toxic debate to ensure that sport can be both inclusive and fair?

The smell of friendship

This week, The New York Times published a piece called Does your nose help pick your friends?, which was pegged to a recent study by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The researchers discovered that similarity in smell was a factor in the enabling of “swift” friendships – in other words, when people “click” upon first meeting. We’ve long known that smell is an important factor in sexual attraction but what does this news mean for purely platonic relationships – and for humanity in general?

The ultimate hangover

A Japanese IT worker who passed out on the street after a night of drinking woke up to find that his bag, containing a USB drive with the personal data of half a million people, had been stolen. The dates of birth, addresses, bank account numbers and tax details of every resident of the city of Amagasaki was lost in the incident. Though an extreme example, this highlights the tension between convenience and security in handling potentially sensitive information – particularly at a time when many people use the same phones and laptops for work and leisure.

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