Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold has been denied an Olympic berth by the International Olympic Committee, more than a week after she made her case as to why she should qualify for the Games.
Bujold, one of Canada’s most successful boxers with two Pan American and 11 national championships, was on the outside looking in after the IOC’s qualifying process kept her out of the Olympics.
Because of two qualifying events being cancelled due to the pandemic, the IOC went back to an 11-month time between 2018 and 2019, including three events, to qualify boxers for the Games.
It was during that time Bujold was pregnant and postpartum. She consistently ranked within the top-four boxers in her weight class leading up to that time frame.
Bujold secured legal representation in a fight to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, making her argument based on human rights and equality.
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“Today, the IOC wrote to my lawyer indicating that it was not accepting the legal arguments raised in her letter on April 23,” Bujold wrote in a statement to CBC Sports.
“We now have unfortunately no choice but to pursue our legal challenge before the courts.”
Bujold has hired Sylvie Rodrigue, her friend and a 28-year corporate litigator at Torys LLP in Toronto, to help in her fight. They’re arguing a female athlete should not be denied a spot in the Olympics due to giving birth.
“We’re asking for a rule that takes into consideration women who may have been pregnant or postpartum during that time frame,” Rodrigue told CBC Sports last week.
Rodrigue had delivered their argument to the IOC two weeks ago. Both her and Bujold were optimistic the IOC would make what they felt was an easy decision.
“We gave the IOC the opportunity to step-up and do the right thing for female athletes who took a brief break to have a child,” Bujold said.
“The IOC’s position is surprising not only from a human rights perspective, but also in view of the multiple public statements it has recently made with respect to its commitment to women and gender equity, specifically in the context of the Tokyo Olympics.”
With less than three months to go until the Olympics, Bujold and her legal team are up against a tight timeline now but aren’t giving up. Their next steps include going to Court of Arbitration for Sport — a last ditch effort to get Bujold into the Games.
Bujold has told CBC Sports she will be retiring after these Olympics and it was her hope to podium at the Games before stepping away from sport.
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