Tokyo Olympics: Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold wins battle to compete, despite pregnancy during qualifying period

Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold says her dream to compete at the Tokyo Olympics is "intact", after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled qualification criteria must accommodate women who pregnant or had given birth.

After qualifying events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to use results from three tournaments over an 11-month period between 2018/19 to determine Tokyo boxing berths.

But Bujold, a two-time Pan Am Games champion who was among the top flyweights in the world before maternity leave, was pregnant and postpartum during the adjusted period, and was therefore left without any qualification points.

Bujold, 33, says the IOC did not respond to a letter she sent them pleading her case and that of other women that might be in a similar situation, so she decided to take her battle to CAS, sport's highest court.

"I am excited to say that my legal battle was won," Bujold says. "The court ruled that the qualification criteria must include an accommodation for women who were pregnant or postpartum during the qualification period." 

She added: "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 had worked so hard for.

"I am so proud that we've set a human rights precedent for female athletes now and for the generations to come."

Bujold made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games, where she advanced to the quarter-finals and suffered a defeat, after spending the night in hospital with an illness.

An 11-time national champion, Bujold says her legal battle was mentally draining, but she continued to train as she needed to be ready, if the outcome went her way.

"My Olympic berth is not what matters here. What matters is the recurring pattern of gender inequality in sport.

"Women should not be punished for being women. They should be respected for the unique challenges they face and continually overcome, and that's why my story is so important to me."

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) says it believes strongly 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 says.

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