IOC slams door on women’s ski jumping
November 25, 2006
IOC SLAMS DOOR ON WOMEN S SKI JUMPING KUWAIT CIY: The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) met today in Kuwait City and voted to continue to exclude women from ski jumping for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. As a discipline within the sport of Nordic Skiing the exclusion of women s ski jumping is not subject to review by a full member session of the IOC. The Executive Board ruled contrary to the findings of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and found that women s ski jumping was not sufficiently developed in the number of athletes or participating nations to warrant inclusion in the Olympic Games. Ottavio Cinquanta, IOC Board member from Italy, said the Board agreed there were not enough women. They are not representative of the sport. We are not saying it will never happen. We are saying not now. Cold comfort to women who have been training since they were six. During the same session the IOC voted to deny the addition of an alpine team event, a singles curling event, and a team event in bobsled, and voted in favor of adding the discipline of ski cross for men and women for 2010. Ski cross is a freestyle discipline similar to snowboard cross where multiple skiers race together over manmade bumps, curves, ridges and natural terrain. All events added to the Olympic Program must provide competition for men and women according to a 1991 amendment to the Olympic Charter. This loophole has grandfathered in the discrimination against women ski jumpers and continues to allow the IOC to add less developed sports. For example, although only 35 women from 15 nations competed in FIS sanctioned ski cross events last season the sport was deemed sufficiently developed to warrant inclusion in the Olympics for 2010. The numbers for bobsled and skeleton were similarly small when they were added for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. In comparison, over 160 women from 16 nations are registered with the FIS as eligible to compete in women s ski jumping for the 2006-2007 Continental Cup events. The US Ski and Snowboard Association recently named five women to the team: Lindsay Van, Jessica Jerome, Alyssa Johnson, Abby Hughes, and Brenna Ellis. The jumpers were devastated on word of the decision. The decision also raises legal issues for the Vancouver Organizing Committee regarding gender equity as pointed out in a letter from the Canadian women s jumping athletes to John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of VANOC. How can the federal and provincial governments fund construction of a multi-million dollar facility that puts up a No Women Allowed sign? Surely such discrimination is contratry to our rights enshrined with the Charter, and to both the federal and provincial Human Rights Acts. VANOC and the Canadian Olympic Committee submitted letters to Jacque Rogge, President of the IOC, last week requesting that the Executive Board support the FIS recommendation and include women s ski jumping in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. What an appropriate location for such an inappropriate outcome. The lobbying work by the United States, Canada, Norway and Italy pales in comparison with the power of the male dominated Executive Board. The IOC has reminded us that in sport, as in Kuwait, gender equity is as ethereal as a mirage in this desert nation.