VANCOUVER — A group of women’s ski jumpers has lost its case in B.C. Supreme Court to be included in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In her ruling, Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon expresses sympathy for the women, but says her court doesn’t have the authority to force the International Olympic Committee to include the sport on the program at the 2010 Games.
The group of 15 former and current female ski jumpers went to court in April to argue their exclusion from the Vancouver Games violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The women wanted a court declaration that the Vancouver organizing committee, known as VANOC, must either hold women’s ski jumping in 2010 or cancel all ski jumping events.
But it’s the IOC that ultimately decides what events will be held in the Games and Fenlon said in her ruling that the international committee is not governed by the Charter, nor does the organization fall under her court’s jurisdiction.
“The IOC made a decision that discriminates against the plaintiffs,” Fenlon wrote in her 42-page decision. “Only the IOC can alleviate that discrimination by including an Olympic ski jumping event for women in the 2010 Games.
“There will be little solace to the plaintiffs in my finding that they have been discriminated against; there is no remedy available to them in this court.”
The IOC maintains women ski jumpers are being prevented from competing at the Games because they don’t meet Olympic criteria, not because of gender discrimination.
One of the legal points at issue was whether the Charter applies to VANOC. Fenlon said the committee was not in breach of the Charter.
“VANOC has no power either to order the inclusion of women’s ski jumping in the Olympic program or to order the removal of men’s ski jumping from the 2010 Games,” she wrote. “In other words, VANOC is not under a duty to distribute equally what is has no power to provide.”