Saturday, February 13, 2010

Women Can't Jump - Need for Gender Balance

From the London Olympic Games when women's boxing is included in the Olympic programme only one sport will not have male and female competitors at either the Summer or Winter Olympiads. That event was the first to award medals today in Vancouver.

While Switzerland's Simon Amman won the first gold of the Games apparently women can't jump, that is ski jump, at least not yet at these Games. There are 100 women* from 18 countries prepared to hurl themselves off the end of the ramp into the air at elite level, not one of them will be seen doing so in Vancouver this fortnight.

Last summer the women tried to take Vanoc (the organising committee) to court through the Canadian civil law for inclusion on equality grounds. They said their exclusion violated Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Judge agreed that their case was discriminatory but couldn't be fought through Canadian courts, but also said Vanoc were right that only the IOC (International Olympic Committee) had authority to decide on sports inclusions. She said:

"The IOC made a decision that discriminates against the plaintiffs. Only the IOC can alleviate that discrimination by including an Olympic ski jumping event for women in the 2010 Games."

Canadian ski jumper Katie Willis said, "It's awful that we lost, but I'm glad we tried." Both Wills and world champion Lindsey Van had previously requested a meeting with Jacques Rogge the IOC President before the court case to argue their case, but the meeting never came to fruition.

There are only five competitive days of Ski jumping on the hills plus three for the Nordic combined. Therefore there is no technical reason why a women's even could not be fitted into the schedule, the women are appealing to Rogge for inclusion in 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

Maybe we should get Jo Swinson on their case.

* I have it on good authority none of the 100 is my good friend Caron.

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