Tennis star Billie Jean King adds voice to those supporting Mandy Bujold's denied Olympic bid
Kitchener boxer Mandy Bujold competes. (Supplied by Virgil Barrow)
KITCHENER -- Former tennis superstar Billie Jean King has joined the chorus of voices backing Kitchener boxer Mandy Bujold's fight to compete at the Olympics this summer.
Bujold was denied a bid at the Tokyo Games after the pandemic cancelled qualifying events and ranking points from 2018 – a year the boxer was on maternity leave – were used to determine eligibility instead.
"In 2020, qualifying events were cancelled around the world. Pregnancy is not an injury, & should not be treated as one," King, a 39-time Grand Slam champion, wrote in a Tweet. "(Bujold) should be allowed to compete. Women athletes will continue to have babies, & the (International Olympic Committee) needs a rule in place now."
King, who has long since retired from tennis, is regarded by many as one of the greatest women's tennis players of all time and has been a long-time advocate for women in sport.
The tennis great's backing comes as a GoFundMe page set up to help Bujold cover the legal costs of her fight against the IOC's ruling has brought in more than $9,500 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Boxing Canada has also voiced support for Bujold's challenge of the qualification process.
One of Canada's top boxers and a two-time Pan American Games champion, Bujold has vowed to take her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) denied her appeal of the qualification process.
“When they're creating criteria, especially at the highest level, thinking about pregnancy and post-partum for women should be a given,” Bujold previously told CTV News. "For the IOC, whose supposed to be running this and being the face of this organization, to not address an issue like this is heartbreaking."
She's arguing that women who decide to have a baby should be able to keep their rankings from the period before the pregnancy.
A spokesperson for the IOC said there's a "consistent process" to the Olympics' qualification system.
“The determination of the boxing qualification system is based on transparent and non-discriminatory qualification principles and includes a thorough assessment and consultations with teams, Boxing Task Force (BTF) Athlete Ambassadors, BTF experts group representatives, and medical advisors,” the IOC said in a statement last week.
The Tokyo Olympic Games begin July 23.
With files from CTV Kitchener's Jessica Smith.