The following is an open letter from a group of women ski jumpers once again asking for inclusion in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. The women have been fighting to compete in the Games for over a year.
Dear Dr. Rogge:
We commend you and the International Olympic Committee Executive Board for your recent approval of the inclusion of women’s boxing in the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games. Your decision has made the Summer Games’ program gender-equal and the outpouring of positive response in the media indicates how ‘right’ that is for everyone, especially female athletes.
The world would cheer even louder if you took the final step to allow women ski jumpers to compete in the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in 2010. Our sport is now the only event in the International Olympic Committee’s Summer and Winter Games that does not have female competitors. Since we launched our lawsuit 18 months ago, there has been overwhelming support for our cause from people all over the world.
You know the facts of our case, but to re-cap: in 2006, when the FIS – which manages 48% of the Olympic Winter Games’ competitions — voted 114-1 to recommend our inclusion in the Olympics, your organization turned us down for 2010. At that time, 83 women ski jumpers from 14 nations were jumping at the elite level in the FIS Continental Cup, our highest level of competition granted by the FIS governing organization. That same year, your organization voted to accept skier cross, a totally new sport. That meant that a sport with 30 female skiers from 11 nations at the World Cup level, was included, while we were excluded. At that time, there were also fewer female athletes participating in the World Cups in bobsleigh, luge, skeleton and snowboard cross and yet they participate in the Olympics as well (see numbers in our enclosed Fact Sheet).
Since 2006, our universality has increased substantially, and we now have close to 100 women from 18 countries competing at the elite level, again ahead of many of the Olympic sports we should be compared to.
All we are asking for is one event in 2010, where our male teammates have three.
Gender discrimination in ski jumping has been well documented. In her reasons released last month, the BC Supreme Court Judge stated, “The IOC made a decision that discriminates against the plaintiffs. Only the IOC can alleviate that discrimination by including an Olympic ski jumping event for women in the 2010 Games.” You have the opportunity to add to your legacy as IOC President by indicating the time is now, and Canada is the place for gender equality in the Olympics. Medals awarded in our event would be meaningful medals, the competition would be spirited and the Olympic Movement would shine even brighter in the eyes of the world. Just imagine the appeal to fans of the Olympics in seeing women ski jumpers finally majestically flying through the air on the facilities already constructed in Canada. John Furlong, president of VANOC has indicated his team “…will move heaven and earth to put on the event if instructed by the IOC.”
As you also know, we have only resorted to a legal remedy because we felt we had no choice. With your decision to include us in 2010, we would all be relieved of the need to continue our battle in the courts.
We look forward to hearing from you and to celebrating mutual victories with you in 2010.
Anette Sagen, Norway, Ulrike Graesler, Germany, Jenna Mohr, Germany, Monica Planic, Slovenia, Lindsey Van, USA, Jessica Jerome, USA, Karla Keck, USA, Katie Willis, Canada, Marie-Pierre Morin, Canada, Meaghan Reid, Canada, Zoya Lynch, Canada, Jade Edwards, Canada, Nata de Leeuw, Canada, Charlotte Mitchell, Canada