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Mandy Bujold to take IOC to court for discrimination (update)

Kitchener's boxing star was unable to qualify for the Olympics after an event in Argentina was cancelled due to the pandemic
mandy bujold
FILE PHOTO take before pandemic. Kitchener's Mandy Bujold (left) is in the ring, with eyes on a spot on Canada's Olympic team in women's boxing. Mark Pare/KitchenerToday

A Kitchener-based boxer is taking the International Olympic Committee to court, as she seeks a final opportunity to compete at the Olympics.

Mandy Bujold is expected to argue discrimination based on sex, as she took time off for her pregnancy, then an Olympic qualifier in Argentina this month was cancelled due to the pandemic.

"(The IOC) basically put out a letter, saying how the (four) spots (in the Tokyo Olympics) were going to be allocated, based on new criteria," she told 570 NEWS.

The criteria was an 11-month window, involving three events in 2018 and 2019, a time where Bujold had her daughter Kate, was on maternity leave, was postpartum and was trying to make her return to international competition.

Despite consistently being a top three boxer in the Americas, finishing second at the Continental Championship before her pregnancy and placing fifth at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the IOC's decision left her out of the running for Tokyo.

She said at the time, the events used to determine qualification were not qualification events, and if they had been, "I could've made different decisions on what point within that Olympic cycle I was going to take time off to have a child."

"They're going back, and the short period of time that they're selecting makes it hard for female athletes, like myself, who had that time off to have a child," Bujold said.

Looking at it, she said she knew the situation was unfair and called up her friend and lawyer Sylvie Rodrigue.

She said Rodrigue told her by looking at the Olympic charter, she realized this was a direct violation of rules set out and sent a letter to the IOC on April 23.

Bujold set a deadline of Monday for the IOC to respond, otherwise she would pursue the discrimination legal challenge before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Bujold said the IOC responded on Tuesday, indicating it would not accept the legal arguments raised in her letter.

She called the IOC's position "surprising," not just on the issue of human rights, but also given the IOC's recent public statements on a commitment to women and gender equity.

"Great progress has been made in terms of balancing the total number of athletes participating at the Games, however, many other challenges and gaps remain," said a page entitled Gender Equality on the IOC's website.

"The IOC is working to address these inequalities through leadership development, advocacy and awareness campaigns, and appointing more women to leadership roles within the administration and key governance positions."

Bujold said the support from the community has been overwhelming, and bringing a light to this issue is important, even if she ultimately doesn't represent Canada this summer.

"This is something that sports organizations need to take into consideration when they're talking about female athletes," she said, "And making criteria for female athletes."

Bujold said in her case, even if she's going up against the giants of the IOC, the fight is worth it.

"This is the dream I've had my entire career, and I know that I'm just so close to being able to achieve that," she said, "All the improvements that we've made at the gym over the last few years.  We've had the extra year we've had to prepare."

"It just would be a shame to not be able to put my work on display."




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