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Women won’t get to jump in 2010

Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear female ski jumpers’ case



It's over. For good this time.

Women's ski jumping has reached the end of the road in its quest for inclusion in the 2010 Winter Olympics with the Supreme Court of Canada's decision Tuesday not to review a decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The ski jumpers had applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, the country's highest, as well as an abridgement of time in which to hear the case. As per usual practice, the Court did not give reasons.

Ross Clark, lead counsel for the ski jumpers, wasn't personally surprised by the decision but he said his clients are disappointed.

"We've done everything we can and there's nothing left to do," he said. "The Supreme Court of Canada hears one in 10 cases that it gets application for leave for. We weren't just asking for leave, we were asking for an early decision.

"The test is whether or not it's a decision of national significance and they've got a full plate so obviously this one didn't make the cut."

Though unsurprised by the ruling, he nevertheless said that Olympic organizers are enacting a discriminatory decision by holding men's ski jumping events and not women's. The only way to remedy that situation, he said, is to either cancel the men's events or hold a women's competition.

"I don't think for a moment they would eliminate the men's event," Clark said. "It would be like asking the organizers of the Super Bowl to cancel it. Good luck.

"Ski jumping is the most popular winter televised sport in Europe. So are you going to cancel it? No, I don't think so."

VANOC CEO John Furlong said in a prepared statement that the organizing committee supports women ski jumpers being added to a future Olympic Games.

"We appreciate the Supreme Court of Canada's time and careful consideration of these complex issues," he said. "Our team is completely focused on final preparations to welcome the world to Canada as set out by the International Olympic Committee."

The fight to include women's ski jumping at the 2010 Games, however, has not come without some success.

The first ruling on the case, in the B.C. Supreme Court, decided that VANOC is performing a government activity in putting on the Games and that it's bound by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees equality before the law.

The decision did, however, say that VANOC wasn't acting in breach of the Charter because it was carrying out a function of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The ski jumpers then took their case to the B.C. Court of Appeal, which dismissed the case, saying VANOC doesn't have the power to decide which events are included in the Games.

Margot Young, a professor of law at UBC, also isn't surprised at the Supreme Court's decision but said the case is a "black mark" on the 2010 Olympics.

"I think it's an embarrassment and a failure for VANOC," she said.



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