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Female ski jumpers lose 2010 Olympic battle

posted by Pretty Tough
Friday, July 10, 2009 at 5:20pm EDT

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Female ski jumper Lindsey Van

Female ski jumper Lindsey Van

We’ve written a lot over the past year about the battle being waged by 15 former and current women ski jumpers who have argued about their right to participate in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

For some background, check out these posts:

Stand with women ski jumpers
Female jumpers sue for Olympic dream
Female ski-jumpers can’t compete in 2010 Olympics

So today, after months of arguments, presentations, protestations and support comes wordfrom the Supreme Court of B.C. that female ski jumpers WILL NOT be competing in the 2010 Olympic Games.

The group went to court in April to argue their exclusion from the Vancouver Games violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

They wanted a court declaration that the Vancouver organizing committee, known as VANOC, must either hold women’s ski jumping in 2010 or cancel all ski jumping events.

VANOC argued that the International Olympic Committee decides which sports are allowed in the Games, and that the charter doesn’t apply to the IOC.

For its part, the IOC had insisted that its decision to keep women’s ski jumping out of the Vancouver Games was based on technical merit, not discrimination.

“The IOC would like to stress again the decision not to include women’s ski jumping has been taken purely on technical merit,” Emmanuelle Moreau, the IOC’s media relations manager, said in an email to The Canadian Press in November 2008. “Any reference to the fact that this is a matter about gender equality is totally inappropriate and misleading.”

In order to be considered for inclusion in an Olympic Games, the IOC said a sport must have held at least two world championships. The first women’s ski jumping world championships will be held next year in Liberec, Czech Republic.

Reasons for judgment
In its reasons for judgment, the court sided with VANOC in that the issue is an IOC responsibility. And while women are being discriminated against, the court said, the responsibility was the IOC’s, not VANOC’s.

The judge also sided with VANOC in its argument that it is not a government entity, and therefore the charter does not apply.

In 2008, Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, said because there are so few female ski jumpers in the world, including them in the Games would dilute the medals being handed out to other athletes.

Supporters of women’s ski jumping argue there are 135 female ski jumpers in 16 countries. This compares with other sports already in the Games, including snowboard cross, which has 34 women from 10 countries, skier cross, which has 30 women from 11 nations, and bobsled, which has 26 women from 13 nations.

They also say the women’s marathon was added to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles after a single world championship in 1983.

While not unexpected, the decision is disappointing on so many levels. My condolences to the ladies who were hoping, and who rightfully deserved, to compete.

Now is the time for the Jacques Rogge and the IOC to step in and ]right this wrong.

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