Female ski jumpers hope to be last-minute addition to 2010 Olympics
With the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver just a few months away, one would assume the lineup of events would be set in stone. But if a group of women ski jumpers gets their way, there could be a last-minute addition to the Games.
Led by Women’s Ski Jumping USA, a group of jumpers is suing Vanoc, the Vancouver organizers of the Olympics, claiming discrimination because there is a ski jumping event for men, but not for women.
This summer, a judge ruled that while not having an event for women was discriminatory, the IOC was not covered by the Canadian Charter of Rights, and thus was not required to hold events for both men and women. Vanoc is now being targeted as the Canadian representative of the IOC. The ski jumpers are hoping that a ruling against Vanoc will get their event added to the Olympics by the IOC.
While the case has moved through the legal system, the jumpers have remained positive, while the Vanoc has had no choice but to proceed as scheduled.
“I am optimistic that right will prevail,” said Deedee Corradini, the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, which has been pushing the case on behalf of a small group of female jumpers. “I have worked with the International Olympic Committee in the past and I cannot believe that if a court here were to order them to put on an event, that they would ignore such an order.”
But Renee Smith-Valade, a spokeswoman for Vanoc, said the organizing committee isn’t making any such plans.
“We don’t have a contingency plan for this,” she told reporters. “With less than 100 days to go, we are responsible for finalizing the preparations for an event that is the equivalent of staging three Super Bowls a day for 17 consecutive days. If and when we are instructed by the IOC to make changes to our planning, we will do so. But at this time, we are completely focused on delivering the 2010 sport program as it currently exists.”
This is a fascinating case to test how much power the IOC should have in comparison to a nation’s laws. Yes, they are an international entity, but at the same time, each country the Games are held in has its own laws. A ruling in favor of the jumpers could limit the power of the IOC, but down the line could also have the effect of impacting which countries will host the Games in the future if the IOC doesn’t want to run afoul of local laws.
Closing arguments will be held on Friday. If the jumpers win, things could get pretty interesting in Vancouver.
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