Winter sports: Female ski jumpers lose final bid to compete
By JEREMY HAINSWORTH
Associated Press Writer
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Female ski jumpers lost their final bid to compete at the Vancouver Olympics on Tuesday when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear their appeal.
The women contend that Vancouver organizers are breaking Canada’s Charter of Rights by hosting only men’s ski jumping. They were seeking the right to appeal two lower-court rulings that said the charter cannot dictate which sports are included in the Winter Games.
As is customary, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for its decision.
The women’s lawyer called the exclusion “textbook discrimination.”
“We are very disappointed the Supreme Court of Canada does not view this as matter of national importance,” Ross Clark said.
The lower courts ruled that the charter does not apply to the International Olympic Committee, which decides which sports and events are included in each games.
The IOC has said it hopes that women’s ski jumping will meet the requirements for inclusion at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Deedee Corradini, president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, said the women will not give up in their fight to be in the Olympics.
“No qualified athlete should be denied the right to participate in the Olympics because of gender,” Corradini said.
The women first launched a lawsuit against local organizers in May 2008, 18 months after the IOC decided against the inclusion of women’s ski jumping.
They dropped a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission when the federal government agreed to lobby the IOC. When that failed, they pursued a court case.
The women wanted the courts to force Vancouver organizers to either add a women’s event or cancel the men’s. Organizers said they could do neither.
The IOC voted not to include women’s ski jumping at the 2010 Winter Olympics because the sport didn’t meet the necessary criteria for inclusion. The IOC requires that a sport must have contested at least two world championships before it can become an Olympic event. There are also rules dictating how far in advance a sport can be added to the Olympic program.
The women countered they have since held enough international events to qualify for consideration as an Olympic sport and said it wouldn’t be difficult for organizers to accommodate one additional event.
The IOC has decided to include women’s ski jumping at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 in Innsbruck, Austria, and will consider adding the event to the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
IOC president Jacques Rogge said earlier this month that the women had not met the standards for inclusion in 2010.
“We did not want the medals to be watered down by too little a pool of very good jumpers,” he said. “There was not enough quality at the time.”
Rogge said there are 164 registered women jumpers in the world, compared to more than 2,500 men. He said there are about 15 “technically very able” jumpers but the rest are not up to world standards.
“We are considering definitely to include them in Sochi should the progress they are making continue,” Rogge said.