VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics asked a Canadian court on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit over the lack of a women’s ski jumping event at the Games, and said that international Olympic officials are not bound by Canada’s Charter of Rights.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) said the lawsuit, filed by a group of U.S. and European female ski jumpers, is also aimed at the wrong target, because the local committee officials do not control what sports are included in the Games.
“The plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendant,” VANOC said in a statement of defense filed with the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver.
The women went to court this month saying they were being discriminated against because the Olympic Games allows male ski jumpers to compete but there is no corresponding competition for female athletes.
Ski jumping has been an Olympic sport since 1924, and is one of the few to not have both a men’s and women’s competition.
The women sued VANOC on the grounds that, because it was responsible for pursuing a public policy of promoting the 2010 Games, it was bound by Canada’s constitutional guarantees of equal rights, just like any other government entity.
VANOC, which has representatives of the federal and provincial governments on its board of directors, along with Olympic officials, said it is not part of the government and any decision about which events are held in 2010 are not considered public policy.
The local officials said their only job was to make sure the facilities are ready and to host the Games, but they follow the orders of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on what competitions will be held.
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has no application to the IOC, which is not a Canadian entity,” VANOC said in the two-page court filing.
The IOC has refused to allow women’s ski jumping as an Olympic sport on the grounds there are not enough women competing on an international level, and that including the event would “dilute” the value of all Olympic medals.
The women say opponents are just being sexist and there are more female ski jumpers than women competing in other Olympic sports, such as women’s ski cross, which will make its debut at the 2010 Games.
VANOC says in the court document it is trying to encourage the development of women’s ski jumping by allowing both male and female athletes to train at the recently completed jump site to be used in the Games.
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