Don’t Go Ahead and Jump

…with all due apologies to Van Halen. What would a Winter Olympics in Canada be without ski jumping controversy? In Calgary in 1988 the world watched as Eddie Edwards flew like an eagle. In response to that the IOC instituted minimum requirements for competitors to take part in Olympics and placed more severe restrictions on competitors qualifying for Olympic competition. In 2010, the ski jumping controversy for Vancouver is the IOC’s refusal to allow women’s ski jumping as an event in the Olympics. In a sense the restrictions that came out of the Calgary Olympiad of 1988 indirectly led to the controversy surrounding ski jumping for the Vancouver Olympiad in 2010.

These events have been commented upon widely and I do not want to add more commentary here, merely to provide the links necessary for one to form their own opinion. In short, the IOC found that women’s ski jumping does not meet the criteria for inclusion in the Olympic Games. A group of women’s ski jumpers took the Vancouver Organizing Committee to court stating that this is a breach of s. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I caution you that this is a very brief attempt at summary because I do not wish to have a 20,000 word post. Suffice to say that there is a bit more nuance to it than this summary, so in short; the BCSC found that the inclusion of the men’s event and not the women’s was discriminatory but the IOC fell outside the jurisdiction of the Canadian Charter. Again, in short, the BCCA affirmed this decision. On December 1, 2009 the group of women’s ski jumpers filed application for leave to appeal to the SCC. A couple of pieces of information to arm you with, from paras.16 & 17 of the CA case:

[16] The “Olympic Programme” refers to the slate of sports, disciplines and events that are held during the Olympic Games. In the Olympic context, skiing is a sport, ski jumping is a discipline, and women’s 90-metre ski jumping is the event the appellants want added to the Programme.

[17] Rule 47 of the 2004 Olympic Charter provides that the IOC determines which sports, disciplines, and events are included in the Games. It does so seven years before the Games in respect of sports, and three years before the Games in respect of disciplines and events. The IOC’s Executive Board makes the decisions as to disciplines and events and does so on the advice of an expert Olympic Programme Commission.*

*I did not have much success looking for the Olympic Programme Commision report in respect of disciplines and events on the Vancouver Olympics, found the report for Turin but not Vancouver.

The last piece of information to look at is the Olympic Charter itself. Particularly, sections 46 & 47 of the Charter and the by-laws pursuant to those sections, which are in regards to the Olympics Programme and the Technical Responsibilities of the IFs at the games. (IF = Olympic jargon = International Federation). And if you enjoy irony have a look at principle 5 of the Fundmental Principles of Olympism (who knew Olympism was a word?).

With the prospect of Quebec City making a bid for the Winter Olympics one can only guess at what the ski jumping controversy might be there.