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VANOC vs. Women's Ski Jump Team Trial Continues

VANOC’s legal team argued in court Wednesday that women ski jumpers should not have the same right to practice their sport as their male colleagues at the 2010 winter games. As on Monday, the first day of the court proceedings, a skeptical media watched the proceedings and could barely stifle their guffaws.

VANOC’s legal team headed by George Macintosh began his arguments before Justice Fenlon to a chorus of titters as he suggested to the court that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) had been one of the strongest supporters of women’s rights by allowing them to participate in high profile Olympic sports. He called the plaintiff’s case, based on the alleged Human Rights Charter violation, an “artificial construct” and denied that VANOC had “operational control” of the 2010 Games.

The latter, Macintosh maintained, resided solely with the IOC due to the organization’s own charter. The defense submission summary maintains that, “The IOC is not a government. It is not even a Canadian entity. The Olympic Programme –the slate of events that make up the Olympic Games – is not a “law” within the meaning of section 15 of the Charter, and accordingly, the absence of a women’s ski jumping event in the programme does not deny the plaintiffs a “benefit of the law” and does not engage section 15."

Macintosh further suggested also that VANOC would be incapable of complying with any court order to allow the women to compete in ski jumping in 2010.

Vancouver’s sole NPA City Councilor, Suzanne Anton, a staunch supporter of the Olympics, said she wished the women ski jumpers well in their lawsuit against VANOC. “I hope they pull it off, and they may, given that the court applies Canadian law,” she said.

Councillor Ellen Woodsworth of COPE, who voted against the 2010 Olympic bid during the 2003 plebiscite, said she also supported the women and that she had invited Deedee Corradini, past mayor of Salt Lake City during the 2002 Olympics and President of the Women's Ski Jumping, USA, to make a presentation to Vancouver's city council yesterday. “The male ski jumpers should stand up for their female colleagues and refuse to participate unless the women can as well,” Woodsworth said.

She suggested that members of the VANOC board were more concerned about their future job prospects than about justice for women or the negative publicity that the case has brought VANOC and the IOC. “Gordon (Campbell) wouldn’t give John Furlong (VANOC CEO) his next job unless he does what the IOC wants,” Woodsworth said.
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