Ireland's women's bobsleigh team could lose their place at the Winter Olympics in the courtroom after Australia submitted an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport insisting that they were the rightful recipients of a starting spot in Vancouver.
The Irish team, comprising of Claire Bergin, Aoife Hoey and Leona Byrne, are currently in Whistler training for the main event which is scheduled to take place on 23 & 24 February.
Hoey and Bergin captured the 20th and final spot in qualifying, outperforming their Australian counterparts in the process.
The Austrian team then withdrew from the Games and Ireland were bumped up to 19th in the rankings, with Japan offered the now vacant 20th spot as the top team in Asia.
This has caused consternation in the Australian Olympic movement as officials argue that they should be offered a similar path to Vancouver as the number one country in Oceania.
‘I’m happy about the hearing,’ said Fiona De Jong, director of sport for the Australian Olympic Committee.
‘We were able to make our point, which I feel is pretty strong. There are five rings in the Olympic insignia and the continent of Oceania deserves to be there. These girls are the best in Oceania.’
Olympic Council of Ireland president Patrick Hickey is appalled that Ireland could yet be cast aside by CAS.
‘It would be outrageous if those girls were stripped of their accreditation and sent back home to Ireland,’ Olympic Council of Ireland president Patrick Hickey told Around the Rings, an Olympic publication, before the hearing.
‘We’re already suffering from the football (case) of Thierry Henry scoring a goal with his hand and eliminating us from the World Cup finals. And if something like this happened it would be catastrophe altogether.’
A decision is expected later today.