Court explains dismissal of appeal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Olympic organizers didn't violate women ski jumpers' rights because they had no power to include their event in the 2010 Winters Games.

The British Columbia Appeal Court provided written reasons on Friday for its decision last week to dismiss an appeal filed by female jumpers seeking to overturn a lower court ruling that allowed organizers to hold a men's ski jumping competition but not a women's event. The women argued that violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The women had asked the courts to rule that the organizing committee, known as VANOC, must either include a women's ski jumping event in February's games or cancel the men's event.

The three-member appeals panel unanimously rejected their appeal last week, but only provided their reasons for doing so on Friday.

British Columbia's highest court concluded that while excluding the women's event was discriminatory, VANOC could not be held accountable because the decision rested solely with the International Olympic Committee.

"It is a case in which a non-governmental body [VANOC] is brought before the court as a result of policies which neither it nor any Canadian authority has the power to change," the justices wrote in the ruling.

"VANOC simply does not have the power to determine what events are included in the 2010 Olympic program."

The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in July that the IOC was discriminating against the female ski jumpers, but Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon said the court did not have the power to order the sport be part of the program.

Both VANOC and the lawyer for the female jumpers declined to comment on Friday.

The women could seek an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada, but that process could take months and the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremonies are less than three months away.

Ski jumping is the only Olympic sport without events for both men and women since the IOC voted earlier this year to include women's boxing in the Summer Olympics.

The IOC voted in 2006 to not include women's ski jumping at the games, saying the sport had not met the required technical criteria.

It will be on the program for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and the international body that governs ski jumping has said it will press for its inclusion for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.