Mandy Bujold's appeal to the International Olympic Committee for a berth in the Tokyo Games has been denied, and so she will take her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"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 in an email. "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."
The 11-time national champion said her lawyer Sylvie Rodrigue received a letter from the IOC that it was "not accepting the legal arguments" raised in Rodrigue's letter to them on April 23.
"We now have unfortunately no choice but to pursue our legal challenge before the courts," Bujold said.
After a competitive year wiped out by COVID-19, the two-time Pan American Games champion had been confident she'd clinch a berth at the Olympic qualifying tournament in May in Buenos Aires, but the event was recently cancelled due to climbing case numbers of the virus in Argentina.
With no competitions now on the schedule, the IOC revised its ranking system, using three events between 2018 and 2019 to determine the four available spots in Bujold's weight class. The 33-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., had been ranked second before her maternity leave, but didn't compete in the three events used in the revised ranking because she'd just given birth to daughter Kate Olympia.
The continental qualifiers were originally scheduled for last March, but scrapped due to the pandemic.
Bujold, who had to settle for fifth at the 2016 Rio Olympics after she hospitalized for an illness the night before her quarterfinal bout, would be the first female to box for Canada at consecutive Olympics if she can secure a berth.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2021.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press