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Bobsleigh team set for Olympic chance

THE Irish women's bobsleigh team are confident that they will be entitled to compete at the Winter Olympic Games.

A spokesperson for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) said that it is "virtually impossible" for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn a decision they made 24 hours ago.

Olympic chiefs agreed that both Ireland and Australia should be permitted to compete in the women's bobsleigh event at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Although Australia failed to qualify automatically for the finals, the team argued that they were entitled to a place under the wild-card ruling, where one slot is provided to Oceania and another to Asia.

However, there were fresh fears yesterday when Brazil appealed the inclusion of Ireland in the game, citing Ireland's late entry into the qualifying campaign.

Brazil want the event increased to 22 competing teams and will have their case heard by CAS in Vancouver tomorrow, with the outcome likely to be known around 10pm Irish time.


But a spokesman for the OCI said that it is "highly unlikely" that the team of Aoife Hoey (26) and Claire Bergin (24) would lose their place at this late stage.

The Irish team are now trying to focus on their training regime, which has been affected by these late legal wranglings from Australia and Brazil.

Aoife Hoey, pilot of the bobsleigh team, was been selected as the Irish flag bearer, regardless of the outcome of the CAS and she said that this was a positive boost.

"It's been a rough few days out here in Vancouver with all the legal action swirling around the bobsleigh team, but this move has lifted our spirits in a big way," she said.

"I am absolutely thrilled at being given this honour," she added.

The opening ceremony for the Olympic Games takes place on Friday and the first heats of the women's bobsleigh are on Tuesday, February 23.