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Irish bobsleigh team still clear to run at Games

THE Irish Olympic Council are confident that the women's bobsleigh team will be cleared to participate in the Winter Olympics, despite a late challenge from Brazil to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Olympic chiefs had agreed that Ireland and Australia will be permitted to compete in the event after the CAS had recommended that both countries compete, with the event expanding from 20 to 21 teams at this month's Games in Vancouver, Canada.

However, Brazil appealed to the CAS to give them a place in the event, citing conflicts in the way the Irish team had qualified.

However, given the CAS ruling on Tuesday, it would be highly unlikely the Irish team of Aoife Hoey and Claire Bergin will be ejected.

Australia had successfully challenged Ireland's inclusion instead of theirs, arguing the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation (FIBT) had failed to properly apply its qualification rules, leaving Oceania without a representative.

Meanwhile, Hoey has been chosen to lead the Irish team at the opening ceremony.

The 25-year-old pilot of the bobsleigh team will carry the Irish flag in the parade of more than 80 nations.

"I am absolutely thrilled at being given this honour," Hoey said. "It's been a rough few days out here with all the legal action swirling around the bobsleigh team, but this move has lifted our spirits in a big way."

The controversial decision to invite Arnold Schwarzenegger to take part in the Vancouver torch relay -- where he is due to hand over to Sebastian Coe -- has been defended by the IOC.

Schwarzenegger's inclusion in the relay has drawn criticism because of his admission that he took steroids in the 1970s when he was a body-builder.

IOC communications director Mark Adams said the former Hollywood actor, now the governor of California, had "served his time".

Adams said: "This happened 30 years ago and I think we accept that people have served their time."