Vancouver's Olympic organizers say the rights of women ski jumpers aren't being violated by a decision not to include them in the 2010 Winter Games.
The organization, known as VANOC, filed a statement of defence Friday against a lawsuit launched by nine jumpers earlier this month.
The suit said leaving their sport out of the Games violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms' guarantee of equality.
Men's ski jumping is included at the Games.
But in the statement of defence, Vancouver organizers said the women have sued the wrong people — the charter doesn't apply to the International Olympic Committee and it's making the decision about which sports to allow.
"VANOC would readily support women's ski jumping in the 2010 Games if the IOC authorized women's ski jumping to be part of the Games," the statement reads.
"VANOC has actively encouraged the use by women of the ski-jumping facilities at Whistler Olympic Park since the opening of such facilities, and will continue to do so to assist in the further development of the sport."
Unclear if VANOC is subject to charter
The statement said even if the charter did apply, the argument that the decision violates charter rights wouldn't stand because the decision about ski jumping isn't one of government policy.
The charter only applies to Parliament, the government of Canada and provincial legislatures and all matters that come within their authority.
"The only way I could see that (the IOC's) decisions come within the charter would be to argue that VANOC is subject to the charter because it is so closely controlled by government and they're just doing the bidding of the Olympic committee," said William Black, a constitutional law professor at the University of British Columbia.
"It's kind of like the Vietnam defence. You can't say somebody else made me do it if you're doing it."
The jumpers claim VANOC is subject to the charter because substantial government dollars are helping fund the 2010 Winter Games.
"It's a totally complex area of the law as to what counts as part of government and what doesn't," Black said, calling it a "wavy fine line" of interpretation.
As an example, there have been decisions in the past that have said community colleges are a part of government, whereas universities aren't.
VANOC is also arguing that even if the decision violated the charter, the committee would be saved by Section 1 of the law, which subjects all rights to reasonable limits.
The organizing committee would not comment further on its statement.
No basis to cancel men's event
The IOC voted not to include women's ski jumping at the Games on the basis that the sport itself wasn't ready to join the Olympic roster.
The first world championship for the event will be held next year.
In their lawsuit, the jumpers had also asked that if their sport was to be excluded from the Games, men's ski jumping should be as well.
VANOC's statement of defence says there would be no basis to cancel the men's events.
The lawyer handling the case on behalf of the women, most of whom are European or American, was not immediately available to comment on the statement.
Black said VANOC and the IOC both could be subject to human rights legislation in Canada, if not the charter.
A group of Canadian female ski jumpers had filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, but it was settled through mediation.
Part of the agreement was that the federal government work with the IOC to try to change the rules.
Secretary of Sport Helena Guergis said recently she's continuing talks with the committee about the issue, including trying to get a meeting between the IOC and Canadian athletes.