Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Women (still) can't jump... an icy slope and shoot into the air and land on two thin (relatively speaking) sticks. Obviously ski jumping is not a sport I am especially eager to take up, but there are plenty of women who do ski jump already and want to be able to do it in the Olympics. The ski jumpers have been doing everything in their power to get their sport into the Olympics, but with few positive results.
Last September the jumpers filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission charging that federal monies (all the taxpayer dollars going towards the 2010 games) cannot be spent on facilities that discriminate--as the ski jumping ones would. A settlement on that complaint has been reached. (More on that in a bit.)
Former Salt Lake City mayor Deedee Corradini has urged Canada to put pressure on the IOC, which has said it will only consider adding the sport when it sees women's ski jumping as having universal interest. And the latest news out of Canada is that the federal government will indeed get involved and put pressure on the IOC to add women's ski jumping to the Vancouver schedule (I am so there if they do!). The government's involvement is part of the CHRC settlement, though this article does not provide many details of the settlement or how/why exactly a human rights complaint gets settled.
The human rights violations charge may provide some pressure, but given that the IOC was not too interested in human rights issues when it gave the summer games to China it may not be an especially effective tactic. The settlement seems to preclude the possibility of a full-fledged fight on the basis of equal rights. The CHRC could have found (I am speculating a little here given that I know nothing about human rights law in Canada except what I have read in the context of ski jumping) that using federal dollars to construct the ski jumping venue is discrimination and it halts that construction, thus potentially halting all ski jumping in 2010. But that does not seem to be the position they are putting the IOC in, though we won't know exactly what the negotiations next week in Vancouver will entail.
Given the IOC's rigid rules on adding sports, I doubt even the pressure of the host nation will sway them in this matter. Unless Canada is holding some kind of trump card and is prepared to play hard ball with the IOC, the (historically misogynist) organization is unlikely to be moved from their position. Also problematic is that Dick Pound, Canada's top Olympic official, is not really into the fight. He keeps citing the IOC rules about adding sports and notes that women's ski jumping is nowhere near meeting the criteria.
Point of fact: despite the IOC's insistence that the sport has not grown enough, statistics show that there are actually more female ski jumpers internationally than there are female athletes in already established winter Olympic sports.

No comments: