Women ski jumpers take discrimination case to B.C. court

Women ski jumpers who are alleging discrimination by Vancouver's Olympic Organizing Committee get their day in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.
American Lindsey Van is one of the athletes suing VANOC to get women's ski jumping added to the 2010 Winter Games. ((Jack Dempsey/Associated Press))

Women ski jumpers who are alleging discrimination by Vancouver's Olympic Organizing Committee get their day in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.

Fifteen international women ski jumpers are suing for the right to take part in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

"We're asking for a declaration that if VANOC is going to hold these events in ski jumping for men, it's obligated to hold them for women," said Ross Clark, the lawyer representing the athletes.

Clark said she will argue that VANOC must be considered "government" or carrying a government function under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that means Canada's human rights protection must apply.

"The right to host the Games was granted to the City of Vancouver," Clark said. "VANOC assumes the responsibility for hosting and putting on the Games. We say that's the city transmitting the responsibility to VANOC and, therefore, it's a government function.

VANOC is expected to argue it is directly accountable to the International Olympic Committee — which sets the rules and regulations governing in the Games — and because the IOC is an international entity, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply

For its part, the IOC says women's ski jumping isn't developed enough to be considered for inclusion — a point the female athletes also plan to argue.

Officials from VANOC wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, noting it is before the courts.