Late objection threatens to put skids on bobsleigh team's dream
IRELAND'S women's bobsleigh team, already in Vancouver preparing for the start of the Winter Olympics in three days, are anxiously awaiting the result of a meeting there tonight that could prevent them from competing.
After the qualifying series, the Irish team of Laois's Aoife Hoey and her Dublin teammate Claire Bergin made history by taking the last qualifying spot (20th), but their involvement is under threat after a bizarre late objection from Australia.
Last week, when one of the Austrian teams withdrew, Ireland were moved into 19th place and Japan were given the spare competition spot.
Australia are arguing that because Japan were given a place as the leading team in Asia, then their team should also get a place as the leading team in their qualifying region -- Oceania.
They have submitted a detailed case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and, if they are successful, could replace Ireland; although if the CAS finds in their favour, they could also recommend the Australians be included as a 21st team and Ireland would not lose out. The CAS is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, but always sets up a temporary office at major international sporting events to act as an independent arbitrator.
Its members are meeting on the issue in downtown Vancouver, Canada, tonight, where Pat Hickey, the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, and a team of lawyers will be representing Ireland.
After the qualification series, the Irish team emerged with higher qualification points than Australia, and it is understood that this will form part of their argument as they insist that their qualifying status must remain untouched.