Vancouver City Councillor

Women ski jumpers all over VANOC

The long battle by women ski jumpers to overturn the IOC ban on their event in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games heads to court Monday. It promises to be a long week for VANOC, which insists it supports the women, but is named as the defendant in the case anyway, charged with violating their Charter right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of gender. 

Writer and athlete Laura Robinson unleashes this first withering salvo against the IOC and VANOC in today’s Globe.  Vancouver City Council endorsed the cause March 3, the second time it had done so. Here, for those interested in the IOC’s long struggle with women’s equality, is the plaintiff’s argument.

The defendant’s case is a massive 125-page file, but here are the key points:

“The IOC’s close control of the Olympics, and specifically its sole authority over the Olympic Programme, is fatal to the Plaintiffs’ claim on every major issue. . .

“VANOC is neither controlled by government, nor is it carrying out a government activity. To the contrary, VANOC is controlled by the IOC . . .

“The inclusion of an event in the Olympics is a benefit conferred by the IOC, not by any government. Further, there is simply no discrimination in this case. VANOC has not done anything contrary to Section 15 [of the Charter]; to the contrary, it supported the inclusion of women’s ski jumping.

“For its part, the IOC is a leader in the promotion of women’s access to sport and has adopted special rules and policies to increase women’s participation in thbe Olympics. While the IOC considered the gender issue raised by the women’s ski jumping application to be a strong factor in favour of its inclusion, ultimately the IOC determined that the sport was insufficiently competitive internationally . . .

“Pursuant to the Olympic Charter, the IOC alone has the right to determine which events will make up the Olympic Games and VANOC has no right, nor power, to reverse the IOC’s decision.”

In other words, the IOC is in charge, it’s above the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that’s the end of that.