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.