For many, the Olympics are a dream. You get to represent your nation and perform in front of the world amongst many of the best from every nation represented. Aside from all the political bullshit, it’s the most exposure young athletes can get before they decide what to do career-wise.
Mandy Bujold dreamed of representing Canada in the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo but as of right now that will not be happening. Bujold was pregnant and did not fight much in 2018 and 2019, then the shutdowns happened due to Covid. A qualifying tournament in Argentina was canceled and the International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force stated boxers from North and South American countries would qualify for the Olympics based on rankings from two tournaments held in those years.
Bujold was ranked number two in the Americas prior to all this happening, and she has lobbied to compete in the Olympics based on that ranking– as pregnancy is not an injury that prevented her from competing. She currently has an appeal filed and has a Go Fund Me to help with legal fees.
Former Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist and former Heavyweight Champion of the world Lennox Lewis was touched by the story and spoke out recently on the issue on Twitter.
“What I could never have imagined is that, in an unprecedented time where female boxers have had to fight to finally get a seat at the table, that the Olympics would penalize an elite fighter like Mandy Bujold, for simply doing things that women do.
“I lost in the 1984 Olympics and rather than turn pro, I went back to the 1988 Olympics to achieve my dream of becoming an Olympic gold medalist. It was a long road to Olympic gold for me.
“As a former Olympian myself, I know exactly what it’s takes to reach for, and even achieve, the Olympic dream. Hard work, dedication, discipline, persistence and sacrifice, are among many things required.
“I understand that the IOC is also reacting to an unprecedented pandemic situation, and they needed to come up with some method of qualifying athletes, but it shouldn’t be so rigid that a top prospect cannot be considered, or exempted, simply because she chose to start a family.
“I really hope the Olympics committee reconsiders it’s position here. Women should not be penalized for doing things that women do or making choices that women make. It’s especially confounding, when I’ve heard that the Olympics have made exceptions for other women who have also made the same choices to start a family and still pursue Olympic dreams and as a former Olympian who has represented her country very well in the past, I find it preposterous that the Olympics in effect has denied her the opportunity to once again represent Canada.
“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. Mandy was ranked No. 2 in the America’s before her pregnancy.”