2010 Olympics Women Ski Jumping IOC Omission Ruled Discrimination
The BC Supreme Court has ruled that while the International Olympics Committee (IOC) exclusion of women's ski jumping in the 2010 Games is discrimination, forcing the committee to allow women ski jumping is outside of the court's jurisdiction.
The ruling was made by Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon, in a case in which fifteen women sued the Vancouver Olympics Committee (VANOC) in light of the fact that the 2010 Olympic Games would include men-only ski jumping.
"The IOC [International Olympic Committee] made a decision that discriminates against the plaintiffs," Fenlon wrote. "Only the IOC can alleviate that discrimination by including an Olympic ski jumping event for women in the 2010 Games."
After the ruling, the IOC issued a statement citing "technical issues" as their reason for excluding women from Olympics ski jumping competition. Though these purportedly include insufficient numbers of elite women ski jumpers and countries who would participate in the sport, Fenlon declared the IOC's excuse inadequate.
"If the IOC had applied the criteria for admission of new events to both men's and women's ski jumping events," she wrote, "neither group would be competing in the 2010 Games."
Men's ski jumping has always been part of the Winter Olympics and remains by virtue of tradition. That "grandfathering" of the men's event, while excluding a women's event, "discriminates against the plaintiffs in a substantive sense," Fenlon concludes.
The IOC's apparent decision to maintain their position in light of negative publicity over the issue is somewhat puzzling as it is disappointing. Inclusion of a women ski jumping competition would make the 2010 Games the first completely gender-equal Winter Olympics in history.
"I'm shocked and disappointed," says Deedee Corradini of Women Ski Jumping USA. But "there is a moral victory here," she adds, given the court's clear finding that the IOC discriminates. "That's what we've been contending all along. So our hope is that the IOC will admit that this is discrimination and end it. The time has come."
The lack of a women's ski jumping competition means ski jumping record-holder Lindsey Van will not be able to compete in the 2010 Olympics.
The ruling means that the ski jumper who holds the distance record on the K95 "normal hill" in the Vancouver Olympics won't get to compete at the games. Lindsey Van, 24, of Park City, Utah, has jumped farther than any man on the Olympic hill.
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Redwater, Alberta, Canada