PtG Article 13.11.2009

Women ski jumpers back in court

The 14 female ski jumpers fighting to be allowed to compete at the Winter Games 2010 next February in Vancouver went to court yesterday to continue their battle.

In July a Supreme Court of the Canadian province of British Columbia ruled that the organisers of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are not bound by Canadian constitutional law to offer a women’s ski jump event at the Games. The court stated that even though it found the exclusion of women's ski jump to be discriminatory, VANOC could not be held responsible as the final decision whether to include women’s ski jump was that of the International Olympic Committee.

Now the female ski jumpers have brought their case to the B.C. Court of Appeal. They argue that VANOC is subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedom and that the exclusion therefore is discriminatory.

“We will ask the court to consider whether the IOC can force VANOC to discriminate when it’s carrying out a government activity,” Ross Clark, lawyer for the women ski jumpers explained.  “We don’t agree with the trial judge’s findings that the International Olympic Committee is the final authority.”The ski jumpers argue that even though VANOC is carrying out IOC’s decisions, they are doing it in Canada and as the organizers of the event they should be able act according to Canadian law."(Canada) cannot host the games contrary to the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms]. The IOC cannot force VANOC or anyone else here to violate the laws of Canada," Clark said according to AP."What we're asking for and have always asked for — and I think the judge confused this in her reasons — is a declaration that VANOC cannot proceed under the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] hosting a men's event without hosting a women's event," Ross Clark said.According to VANOC, the female ski jumpers should not expect to compete in the Winter Games as long as the IOC does not support their inclusion."Ultimately the sport program, as it is delivered in 2010, is [the IOC's] decision," said VANOC communications vice-president Renée Smith Valade to CBC News Canada "If there's a decision to add another event, that's still their decision."

The court case is expected to end Friday 13 November.

The B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of the female ski jumpers and decided not to overturn the decision made in July.