In a lengthy letter directly addressed to IOC President Thomas Bach, Canada’s minister responsible for sport Steven Guilbeault asked Bach to reconsider their decision to keep boxer Mandy Bujold from competing at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
CBC Sports has received a copy of Guilbeault’s letter in support of Bujold, asking the IOC to reinstate Bujold in the Tokyo Games less than two weeks after the IOC denied her request to be qualified for competition.
“I urge you to reconsider the decision to exclude Mandy Bujold, in the name of fairness and on the basis of our mutually stated ambitions of gender equity, human rights and promoting women and girls participating in sport,” Guilbeault wrote.
Bujold, one of Canada’s most successful boxers with two Pan American and 11 national championships, is currently on the outside looking in at the Games after the IOC’s qualifying process kept her out of the Olympics.
WATCH | Mandy Bujold on her fight to compete in Tokyo:
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.
Bujold was pregnant and postpartum during that time frame leaving her without any qualification points. She consistently ranked within the top four boxers in her weight class leading up to that time frame.
Guilbeault wrote to Bach that the decision by the IOC to only consider rankings for three events held during an 11-month period in 2018 and 2019 as qualifiers for the Tokyo Games represents “a huge systemic failure.”
“Making the decision to become a mother in 2018 should not penalize Ms. Bujold from having the opportunity to compete in Olympic Games based upon a specified timeframe decided retroactively by the IOC, a timeframe where Ms. Bujold was pregnant and then on maternity leave caring for her new child,” Guilbeault wrote.
She chose to start a family in 2018 and missed some tournaments that the IOC, because of the pandemic, would later decide that is how they will qualify female fighters for Olympic status. <a href=”https://twitter.com/MandyBujold?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MandyBujold</a> was ranked No. 2 in the America’s before her pregnancy…
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. She says she has seen the letter and is grateful for the support from the Canadian government.
“He made a lot of really great point and I appreciate that he took the time to show his support,” Bujold told CBC Sports.
In 2020, qualifying events were cancelled around the world. Pregnancy is not an injury, & should not be treated as one. <br><br><a href=”https://twitter.com/MandyBujold?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MandyBujold</a> should be allowed to compete. Women athletes will continue having babies, & the I.O.C needs a rule in place now. <a href=”https://t.co/JQigPjQ8xx”>https://t.co/JQigPjQ8xx</a>
In Guilbeault’s long letter to Bach, he wrote that Bujold’s exclusion from the Tokyo Olympics sends a message to “female athletes the world over — you can be an athlete, or a mother — but not both at the same time. Hers is a nuanced case that requires consideration, not rigidity.”
He goes on to write that gender equity in sport represents an important aspect of advancing equality and fairness for women in sport and society, and “how this decision came to be is an injustice to Ms. Bujold.”
Prior to Bujold’s pregnancy, she was consistently ranked top four. Now she could miss the Olympics completely because of her pregnancy and the pandemic.
“Purely from a boxing perspective, the tournament in Tokyo will not truly be world class without Ms. Bujold involved,” Guilbeault wrote.
“She is a trailblazer, a champion, and an inspiration to many. The IOC should strive to ensure that every Olympic competition is representative of the world’s best athletes. In this case, that includes Mandy Bujold.”
WATCH | Bujold shares athletic passion with her daughter: