Olympic future for sport looks brighter

LONDON -- Women's ski jumping will be included in the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in 2012 and has a "very strong case" to be part of future Olympics, IOC president Jacques Rogge said.

Rogge sent a letter to a group of women who have appealed for women's ski jumping to be added to the program of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Rogge reiterated the International Olympic Committee's position that women's ski jumping was "not ready" for Vancouver because it does not meet the necessary requirements. He said the decision was made "on a technical basis and absolutely not on gender grounds."

"As we've said since we made our decision in 2006, we remain open to considering women's ski jumping for inclusion in future Olympic Winter Games and I am sure that your event will be able to make a very strong case the next time the FIS [international ski federation] proposes it," Rogge wrote.

The next Winter Olympics after Vancouver will be held in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

The women jumpers sent a letter to Rogge earlier this month asking him to reconsider their case after the IOC executive board decided to include women's boxing in the 2012 London Olympics. Boxing had been the last sport in the Summer Games without women competitors.

Ski jumping and Nordic combined -- which includes both ski jumping and cross-country skiing -- are the only Winter Olympic sports that don't include women.

"Women's ski jumping is growing and we are also trying to do our bit by including women's ski jumping in the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games," Rogge wrote, referring to the event to be held in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012 for competitors aged 14-18. "Hopefully we can contribute to bringing more participants into the sport."

A copy of the letter, dated Aug. 21, was obtained by The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, a group of 14 women ski jumpers appealed a court decision that prevents them from competing at the 2010 Games. The women filed their argument in British Columbia Court of Appeal, claiming that the organizers of the Vancouver Games must abide by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A three-judge panel will hear the appeal arguments in Vancouver on Nov. 12-13.

"We are not asking the court to determine which sports are to be included in the Olympics. That is not its role," attorney Ross Clark, who represents the ski jumpers, said in a statement Tuesday. "It is for the court to see that the hosting of the Games, and in particular the ski jumping events, complies with the charter."

The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in July that the International Olympic Committee is discriminating against the ski jumpers by keeping them from the Games. But Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon said the court does not have the power to order the sport be part of the program.