The women ski jumpers suing VANOC for inclusion in the 2010 Olympics are back in court tomorrow and Friday with arguments that will build on the trial judge’s findings of discrimination and VANOC carrying out a government activity, according to Ross Clark, Q.C., lawyer for the jumpers and a partner with Davis LLP in Vancouver.
“We will ask the court to consider whether the IOC can force VANOC to discriminate when it’s carrying out a government activity,” Clark explained. “We don’t agree with the trial judge’s findings that the International Olympic Committee is the final authority.”
Deedee Corradini, president of Women’s Ski Jumping-USA and former mayor of Salt Lake City, agrees with Clark. “Canada has poured over $2.5 billion taxpayer dollars into the 2010 Olympics and almost daily local, provincial and federal politicians are claiming credit for hosting the games. Rights to free speech are being curtailed and government will be forced to underwrite any loss,” Corradini pointed out. “It seems obvious that government is deeply involved.”
According to Corradini, VANOC’s argument of being supportive of the women ski jumpers is not credible either.
“This is not what support looks like. Support would be VANOC taking the jumpers' position to the IOC itself rather than having the athletes take on the fight themselves,” she explained. “VANOC could have told the IOC there is a human rights law in Canada which says that a distinction cannot be drawn between men and women, and what it offers to one, it must offer to the other.
“What VANOC has done is window dressing at best,” she added. “I know from my intimate involvement in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake that VANOC has its own board and has tremendous decision making power of its own.”
A panel of judges will hear the appeal and an expedited ruling, with reasons to follow, has been requested. The 14 elite women ski jumpers who are plaintiffs – several of whom will attend court this week – are optimistic about their chances to win and to participate in the Games next February.