CAS decision to be announced this evening

February 9, 2010

The Australian Olympic Committee has filed an application against the decision of the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation (FIBT) to not allocate a continental representation quota place to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) in the Women’s Bobsleigh event which is scheduled to commence on 23 February 2010. The AOC requests that the athletes Astrid Loch-Wilkinson and Cecilia McIntosh be able to participate in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

The decision may result in the Womens Bobsleigh comopetition fielding 21 teams, rather than the original 20, or it could mean that the Irish pair of Aiofe Hoey and Claire Bergin being excluded.

The OCI President Pat Hickey, Chef de Mission Siobhan Hoey and  OCI legal representative Giles Kennedy were in Vancouver for last nights hearing .

Previous press release, see below:

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Ireland‘s Women’s Bobsleigh challenge at this month’s  Vancouver Winter Olympics is under threat following legal moves by the Australian Olympic Committee.

The Australian Olympic Committee has made a lengthy legal appeal to CAS (The Court of Arbitration for Sport), contending that they should be given a position in the final line-up of the 20 teams competing in the Women’s Bobsleigh event in Vancouver.

Should they be successful, the net effect could be that the Irish team will be replaced by the Australian team.  Alternatively, the Australians may press for inclusion in the Olympic line-up in the 21st position, which would entail a derogation of the Olympic competition rules.

The Irish team, which has already achieved higher qualification standards than the Australian team, has been entered and accepted for the Winter Olympic Games by the International Committee (IOC), the World Bobsleigh Federation (FIBT) and the Winter Games Organising Committee (VANOC).  

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, in the last 48 hours, 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 for performance at the Games (only 20 teams can qualify)in the view of the International Olympic Committee and the FIBT.  

Australia‘s case is that, being on the continent of Oceania, this 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.

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 has asked CAS to delay any immediate hearing of the Australian submission so that a heavyweight Irish legal team can travel from Dublin to Vancouver to be present and make counter submissions at the CAS hearing which is scheduled to take place in downtown Vancouver.   CAS is mandated to make a decision within 24 hours of the Australian submission.

The Olympic Council of Ireland and the women’s bobsleigh athletes (Aoife Hoey and Claire Byrne) 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

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