Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold wins appeal to compete at Tokyo Olympics

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TORONTO — Mandy Bujold has won her appeal to box in the Tokyo Olympics.

On Tuesday, Bujold said on Twitter that the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the International Olympic Committee's Boxing Task Force must include an accommodation for women who were pregnant or postpartum during the qualifying period.

"We did it!" she said in the post.

The 11-time Canadian flyweight champion appealed to the CAS after her qualifying tournament in Argentina was scrapped due to COVID-19.

The 33-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., and her lawyer Sylvie Rodrigue lost their original appeal to the IOC in May, leaving the CAS her last chance to box in what would be her final Olympics.

Bujold argued discrimination based on sex, as she took time off for pregnancy.

After a competitive year erased by COVID-19, Bujold was confident she'd clinch an Olympic berth at the qualifier in Buenos Aires, but after that event was cancelled, athletes were selected on a revised ranking system that used three events between 2018 and 2019 — events she missed because they conflicted with her maternity leave.

Bujold's daughter Kate Olympia was born on Nov. 5, 2018.

"My Olympic dream is still intact," Bujold said in her Twitter post. "It was one of the biggest fights of my career, but also the fight with the most meaning. I was standing up for what I believe is right, and for the dream I worked so hard for."

The Canadian Olympic Committee 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's case drew support from numerous high profile people, including former tennis star Billie Jean King and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Boxing Canada all appealed to the IOC on Bujold's behalf.

Bujold is a two-time Pan American Games gold medallist. Illness derailed her quest for a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The night before her quarter-final bout she was in hospital receiving an IV. She lost that match.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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