Court dismisses ski jumpers appeal
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed on Friday a bid by women ski jumpers to force Vancouver Olympic organizers to let them compete.
The women were appealing a lower court ruling that allowed organizers to hold a men's ski jumping competition but not a women's event -- something the women argued violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The games are less then three months away and the appeals court made the ruling after hearing two days of arguments. Women's Ski Jumping-USA president Deedee Corradini said it didn't look good for the women being able to compete next year.
"I think it was the wrong decision in terms of justice being done to these women," Corradini said. "We're not going to give up."
The women had asked the courts to rule that the organizing committee, known as VANOC, must either include a women's ski jumping event in the 2010 Games or cancel the men's event.
Vancouver organizers say the charter doesn't apply because the International Olympic Committee made the decision not to include a women's event.
"The Canadian court system is a bit weak if it can't stand up to the IOC," American jumper Lindsey Van said. "They can just do whatever they want. It's scary."
The organizing committee issued a statement welcoming the decision.
"We appreciate the court's time and careful consideration of these complex issues," John Furlong, VANOC CEO, said in a statement. "With 91 days remaining until the start of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, we must remain focused on our preparations to stage the 2010 sport program as set out by the International Olympic Committee, including a men's ski jumping event.
"We remain supportive of these remarkable young women and of having women's ski jumping added to the roster of future Olympic Winter Games."
Ross Clark, the lawyer representing the women, said he was disappointed, but will wait to read the decision before deciding on further action. The case could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"There's a lot of hurdles to that," he said.
The ruling by the appeals court upheld the lower court ruling that said while the games are a government activity and subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it's the IOC that decides which sports are included and that organization is not subject to the charter.
The IOC voted in 2006 not to include women's ski jumping at the games, saying the sport had not met the required technical criteria.
It will be on the program for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and the international body that governs ski jumping has said it will press for its inclusion for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press