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Women Ski Jumpers’ Lawyers File Appeal Argument

Fri, Aug  28, 2009 - By Whitney Childers

Vancouver – Pointing out it is the Court’s duty to make sure the hosting of the 2010 Olympic Games complies with the Charter or declare it invalid if it does not, lawyers for the 14 elite women ski jumpers battling for inclusion in the 2010 Olympics filed their arguments with the BC Court of Appeal yesterday.

“We are not asking the Court to determine which sports are to be included in the Olympics – that is not its role, nor is it VANOC’s,” Ross Clark, Q.C., a partner at the Vancouver office of Davis LLP, explained.  “But it is for the Court to see that the hosting of the Games, and in particular the ski jumping events, complies with the Charter.”

Clark said the women ski jumpers’ appeal is based on key errors in judgment at the BC Supreme Court.

“The lower court judge found VANOC is carrying out a governmental activity in hosting the Olympics; that the hosting of ski jumping events for the Games is a benefit of the law; that VANOC is hosting ski jumping for men but not for women and this means the women are being discriminated against,” he said.  “We absolutely agree on those points.  But she failed to understand our position and the relief sought.  She considered whether the Court could order VANOC to host an Olympic ski jumping event for women and proceeded from there.  

“This was critically wrong.  We acknowledge VANOC doesn’t have the authority to do that without direction from the IOC,” Clark pointed out. “Our position has always been that since the Charter prohibits VANOC from hosting an unconstitutional ski jumping event – one with men only – VANOC must refuse to do so.”

On Nov. 12 and 13, a three-judge panel will hear the appeal arguments in the Vancouver Law Courts.  For a PDF copy of the factum, go to www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Court_of_Appeal/index.aspx