GeneralNewsWomen Ski Jumpers Discrimination Hearing Starts April 20

FasterSkier FasterSkierApril 20, 20092

Editor’s Note:  The fight for inclusion of women’s ski jumping has been going on for some time now.  The legal avenue was only taken after the IOC refused to meet with representatives.  The IOC does not seem to have a valid argument for excluding women’s ski jumpers.  Their claim that participation is too low falls flat in the face of women’s Ski Cross, where numbers are a third the level of jumping.  You can read a more detailed description of the issues, including the IOCs often outrageous repsonses here.

Vancouver – The case for 15 elite women ski jumpers suing the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the right to participate in the 2010 Olympic Games will be heard in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, beginning at 10 am on Monday, April 20.

According to the plaintiff’s lawyer Ross Clark, Q.C., the hearing is expected to take five days before a judge and will involve no witnesses, just presentations by him and VANOC’s lawyer George MacIntosh, Q.C.  Clark will speak on Monday and Tuesday; MacIntosh on Wednesday and Thursday and the judge will adjourn the hearing on Friday, April 24 to consider his or her decision over the coming weeks.  Documents submitted to the court by both sides are now available to the public.

“We are confident in our arguments,” Clark, a partner in Davis LLP’s Vancouver office, said.  “We will argue forcefully that VANOC is a government entity and must be required to uphold the Charter rights of these women to participate in 2010.  In Canada, we believe in equal rights for men and women and our laws guaranteeing those rights must be upheld.”

Lindsey Van, the first and current World Champion, said no one wanted to go to court over this issue.  “This is truly a last resort, but we have been through the whole process with the International Olympic Committee for over three years to no avail,” she pointed out.  “We are all highly committed athletes whose abilities and numbers meet or exceed all the requirements to compete at the Olympics.  Our bid to be at the Games is supported by FIS, our sport’s federation and yet we’ve been denied.

“Even as recently as last month, we sought a meeting with Dr. Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, but it only resulted in an exchange of letters in which he says he regrets not having time to meet,” Van said.  “We have always advocated a win-win solution with everyone celebrating 2010 in Vancouver as the first gender-equal Olympics Games in history.”

Ski jumping is the only sport in the Olympic Winter Games not open to both men and women.

Source: WSJ-USA

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2 comments

  • Avatar
    Ben Page

    April 20, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I am concerned. I’m not about to argue whether or not women’s ski jumping should be an Olympic Sport because, quite frankly, I just don’t know enough about the issue. However, I took the liberty of googleing women’s jumping and the very first article that pops to the top of the screen is an article published today (april 20th) by The Vancouver Sun which declares “Vanoc must let women compete in ski jump or drop men’s events, court told.” This is not good for anyone.

    It very well may be that athletes, such as Lindsey Van, should have every opportunity to compete in the games, but to suggest that their male counterparts should be denied the honor of participation is offensive in the extreme. I would hope that the nordic community is be able to maintain a constructive dialogue without succumbing to thoughts of vengeance and resentment, and I would personally be embarrassed to learn if the Women’s Ski Jumping community is perpetuating this counterproductive solution.

    I would also like to point out fasterskier’s use of terms like “falls flat on it face” and “outrageous responses” and suggest the abandonment of this type of speech, for such rhetoric only serves to flaunt logical insecurities and does not promote true discourse.

  • FasterSkier
    FasterSkier

    April 21, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Hi Ben – Thanks for your comment. I would disagree with your assertion that the word choice in the “Editor’s Note” is in any way counterproductive.

    The fact that “in November 2006, 83 women from 14 nations were registered with the FIS for women’s ski jumping compared to 30 women from 10 nations registered for skier cross” does indeed cause the IOC’s argument that participation in women’s ski jumping is too low to “fall flat.”

    And when a member of the IOC (Gian Franco Kaspar) says that because of repeated hard landings he felt that the sport “seems not to be appropriate for the ladies from a medical point of view,” it is fair to classify such a comment as “outrageous.” That is sexism in the extreme, and such behavior should not be characterized as anything but.

    I would also disagree strongly that pushing the court to either let women in or kick men out “is not good for anyone.” Women have as much right as men to compete in Olympic Ski Jumping. I certainly don’t want to see men barred, but it is a reasonable point to make – there are two paths to fairness here – let everyone compete or no one. There is no logical argument that I have come across for barring women ski jumpers from the Olympic games.

    From the Olympic Charter –
    “Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”

    Barring women ski jumpers from competing based on their sex certainly does not show “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.” I would challenge you to argue otherwise.

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