IOC: Women's ski jumping out of '10 Olympics because of low participation

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Women's ski jumping is being left out of the 2010 Winter Olympics because there are not enough athletes to merit the sport's inclusion, not because of gender discrimination, an International Olympic Committee spokeswoman said Wednesday.

A group of women ski jumpers is suing the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee and will get a chance to argue in British Columbia Supreme Court on April 20 for their sport to be included.

"The IOC would like to stress again the decision not to include women's ski jumping has been taken purely on technical merit," Emmanuelle Moreau, the IOC's media relations manager, said in an e-mail to The Canadian Press.

"Any reference to the fact that this is a matter about gender equality is totally inappropriate and misleading," Moreau said.

The IOC voted in 2006 to exclude women's ski jumping from the 2010 Games, saying the sport didn't meet the basic criteria for an Olympic event. Vancouver Olympic organizers have said they are bound by the decision of the IOC.

The lawsuit alleges that excluding women's ski jumping violates the athletes' rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It asks for women's ski jumping to be added to the 2010 Games or, barring that, for men's ski jumping to be removed.

Moreau said women's ski jumping will become an Olympic event when the sport grows, perhaps by the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.