Women ski jumpers go to court in Olympic bid
VANCOUVER, British Columbia ” Fifteen international female ski jumpers appeared in a Canadian court on Monday seeking a ruling that women be allowed to compete in the event at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Three men’s ski jumping events are planned at next February’s Games but none are scheduled for women.
The women ” from the U.S., Canada, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Norway ” say that their exclusion by the International Olympic Committee is a violation of Canadian human rights laws.
The IOC says women’s ski jumping simply doesn’t have enough international competitions to merit inclusion.
American jumper Lindsay Van, who won the first women’s World Championship in February in the Czech Republic, said the case should never have got to this point.
“I’m just very disappointed in the IOC,” Van said.
The women want the court to rule the men’s ski jumping be canceled if they are not allowed to compete, and their lawyer, Ross Clark, told British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon the exclusion of female jumpers was “a direct assault on their human dignity.”
The lawsuit, however, is against the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and not the IOC.
Clark said the Canadian government and British Columbia governments effectively control the Games and that therefore VANOC must comply with Canadian law.
“It is VANOC, not the IOC, that is planning, organizing, financing and staging the 2010 Games,” Clark told the court, accusing the organizers of “blindly accepting” IOC rules which “perpetuates the historical prejudice against women.”
VANOC told the court it fears that a victory for the women could mean the IOC would never again award an Olympics to Canada.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that we’re going to win this and that the women will be jumping in Vancouver 2010,” said Deedee Corradini, former mayor of Salt Lake City which hosted the Winter Games in 2002, and who is acting as spokesperson for the women.