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Irish Women’s Bobsleigh Olympic Spot under threat

February 7th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Sport

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The Australian Olympics Committee are taking a case against the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation (FIBT) at the Court of Arbitration. The Court has set up an office in Vancouver ahead of the Winter Olympics which starts next Friday.

The outcome of the case affects the Irish Women’s Bobsleigh team who thought they had qualified and were getting settled in. Yes we have a teamAoife Hoey and Claire Bergin qualified in 19th place. However the Australian women’s team, who were slower than the Irish, are saying that there should be a place for them in the Olympics due to an understanding about the participation of a team from Oceania. Japan is already in there in 20th place (yup Ireland were also quicker than the Japanese!)

The Australian Olympic Committee have dispatched a lawyer from Sydney to help out.

In a situation that brings to mind the movie Cool Runnings, based on a true story about an underdog bobsled team from Jamaica, the team say they are being shut out of the opportunity to represent Australia.

Loch-Wilkinson and McIntosh had expected they would automatically be awarded a berth in the event as the top-ranked representatives of Oceania under the rules of International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.

”If any continent is not represented in the top 20 rankings, it was always an understanding that they would get a spot,” Loch-Wilkinson told The Sun-Herald from Canada.

But the team, which just missed out on a top 20 ranking, found out 10 days ago there would be no berth for Oceania as part of an International Olympic Committee attempt at tightening athlete numbers.

The Court of Arbitration have announced that they will hear the case tomorrow – they were due to hear it yesterday. There are snippets about this in the Sunday Independent and Irish Times but no radio call ins, national gnashing of teeth etc ala Henry’s handball….yet 🙂


The Olympic Council of Ireland have released a statement on the matter. (Thanks to SG for the email)

The Olympic Council of Ireland is making strong legal representations to CAS regarding the proven rights of qualification of the Irish Women’s bobsleigh team via the standard qualification process, and are highlighting the fact that the team has passed all verification standards for participation in the Winter Olympic Games, including full clearance and accreditation by the International Olympic Committee.

The Olympic Council of Ireland and the women’s bobsleigh athletes are very disappointed at the Australian Olympic Committee’s approach and are determined to fight for their rightful and well earned position in the Olympic Bobsleigh competition which starts on Tuesday, February 23rd.

“The Irish team is now currently based in the Olympic Village in Whistler, Vancouver, having passed all relevant accreditation registration. It is training at the nearby Olympic bobsleigh track alongside all the other national teams that have qualified for the Games. Nevertheless, CAS is an independent legal entity and may well decide that the Australian Olympic Committee has a case against the FIBT regarding qualification issues that they have raised.

The Australian Olympic Committee has presented a very lengthy legal submission to CAS outlining their request that the Irish team be replaced by the Australian team – a very technical submission based on Australia’s interpretation of the rules governing qualification. The Irish team, which now is in 19th position on the qualification table, has fully qualified by all international interpretations.

Japan is in 20th place and completes the quota in the view of the International Olympic Committee and the FIBT. Australia’s case is that, being on the continent of Oceania entitles them automatically, despite much weaker performances than Ireland, to a guaranteed place in the final line-up. This is the issue that CAS has to address.”

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