Canada’s Mandy Bujold wins battle to box in Tokyo Olympics

Canada’s Mandy Bujold wins battle to box in Tokyo Olympics

Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold has won her fight to participate in next month’s Tokyo Olympics.

Bujold said Wednesday the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that the qualification criteria must include an accommodation for women who were pregnant or postpartum during the qualification period.

“I am excited to say that my legal battle was won,” Bujold, 33, said in a statement.

I’m pleased that the members of the [CAS] tribunal have seen the importance in not only my case, but in setting a precedent for the future of women’s sport,” Bujold said. “This decision can give hope to young aspiring athletes around the world, knowing that they don’t have to decide between an Olympic dream and starting a family.”

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said in a statement that it strongly believes in gender equity in sport and is pleased with the CAS decision.

“We understand that the qualification systems have been extremely complicated and some decisions resulted in unintended consequences,” the COC said.

We agree with the decision to grant this appeal recognizing these consequences and the need for accommodation in cases where discrimination has resulted.”

Bujold, a fighter from Kitchener, Ont., had originally been ruled ineligible to compete because she was pregnant and postpartum with her daughter, Kate Olympia, in 2018 and 2019, the period the International Olympic Committee (IOC) used to determine qualification after the pandemic wiped out the 2020 competitive year.

Bujold had been ranked second in the world before her maternity leave, but didn’t compete in the three events used in the IOC’s revised ranking.

‘Historic decision’

In its statement on Wednesday, Boxing Canada executive director Roy Halpin called the CAS’s decision “historic.”

“What an incredible and rightful decision, not only for Mandy and her legal team, but also for all the other female athletes who will benefit over time from this decision,” said Halpin. “Boxing Canada wishes to congratulate Mandy on this historic decision, and in her fight for gender equity.”

The 11-time national flyweight champion had been confident she’d clinch a berth at the Olympic qualifying tournament in May in Buenos Aires, but the event was cancelled due to climbing COVID-19 case numbers in Argentina.

Bujold and her lawyer, Sylvie Rodrigue, had originally petitioned the IOC  for a berth but were turned down and appealed to the CAS. 

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, the COC and Boxing Canada all appealed to the IOC on Bujold’s behalf.

Rodrigue said Bujold’s legal challenge boiled down to human rights; the law says penalizing a woman because of pregnancy or a postpartum period is discrimination.

“We recognize that the pandemic may have required making changes to the qualification criteria for boxers in the Americas, the only continent by the way where the qualifying event was cancelled,” she said. “But discrimination of any kind, including based on sex remains illegal, pandemic or not.

“Mandy did not choose not to go to a qualifying event … Mandy planned her pregnancy according to the Olympic cycle, specifically so she would be ready to compete at these Olympic qualifiers.”

Bujold, a two-time Pan American Games champion, will be the first woman to box for Canada at consecutive Olympics. An illness derailed her dreams at the 2016 Rio Games and she finished fifth.

Read more on News source- CBC

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