The trial pitting women ski jumpers excluded from competing in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games against the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) is set to begin on April 20th. Both sides in the summary trail just released their written arguments.
The sport was left off the roster for the 2010 Games because the IOC declared it was not developed enough to merit inclusion in the Olympics. The women ski jumpers argue they are being discriminated against in violation of their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms since male jumpers are allowed to compete in three events whereas there are none for women. The women argue that the local organizers must respect the Charter because the Olympics are partially funded and supported by the federal government and cannot avoid its reach just because the IOC is outside Canadian jurisdiction. The plaintiffs are asking the British Columbia Supreme Court for a declaration that restricting the Olympics to male jumpers contravenes the Charter thus compelling VANOC to host a women’s competition in order to comply with the court’s finding.
In its defence, VANOC argues that it is the IOC’s responsibility to determine what events are included in the Olympics and that Charter arguments are moot as the IOC is beyond the jurisdictional reach of the court. They argue that the IOC’s decision was not discriminatory but based on the fact that women ski jumping did not meet IOC standards to qualify for inclusion in the Olympics, falling below the number of participants and skill level required. VANOC also points out that women ski jumpers have trained and competed at the Olympic Games ski hill this winter and claims that a judgment in favour of the women ski jumpers would imperil the future of Canada ever again hosting an Olympic Games.