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Archive for July 12th, 2009

Women can’t jump

July 12, 2009 @ 11:04 By: gordon Category: In the news

Ski jump, that is.

The 2010 Olympics being held in Vancouver next year will have three ski jumping events for men, but none for women.

Canadian women ski jumpers launched a challenge of this under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the basis that this is discriminatory. Ski jumping is the only event in the Olympics that is mens-only, a situation that has existed since 1924.

The International Olympic Committee says that their decision not to include a women’s offering is “based on technical issues, without regard for gender,” according to a story in the Globe and Mail.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that women ski jumpers are being discriminated against by the IOC’s decision, but that there’s nothing that can be done because the IOC is based in Switzerland and thus beyond the reach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And the Vancouver Organizing Committee must abide by the IOC’s decisions, even though it’s in based in Canada. Not unsurprisingly, the IOC has issued a statement in which they say “we strongly disagree with the court’s analysis that the IOC acted in a discriminatory manner.”

I understand that the schedule of events at the Olympics is tight, but how difficult would it really be to fit a women’s ski jumping event into it?

The IOC claims there aren’t enough countries and top-flight women to make it worth it, but if they don’t offer the event at the Olympic Games what do they expect? It’s the classic chicken-and-egg scenario.

Interestingly, the judge noted that male ski jumpers don’t meet this criteria either, but that they were “grandfathered” into the Winter Games in 1924 when new qualification rules were introduced.

"Men can participate … even though they do not meet the current standard for inclusion. Women cannot," [Judge Lauri Ann Fenlon] said. "In my view, the exclusion of women’s ski jumping from the 2010 Games is discriminatory."

Shame on the Vancouver Organizing Committee for not having the integrity to stand up to the IOC, declare that the 2010 Olympic Games must be non-discriminatory and include a women’s ski jumping event. And shame on the International Olympic Committee for perpetuating this discriminatory practice.