The controversy surrounding a group of women ski jumpers pushing for a chance to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Games has taken many turns since the IOC voted in 2007 not to include the event. Now Canadian IOC member and VANOC board member, Dick Pound, is weighing in on the subject.
In a story by Jeff Lee of the Canadian newspaper, the Vancouver Sun, Pound opened up about his views of the jumpers’ plight.
“If the B.C. Court of Appeal orders the Vancouver Organizing Committee to put on an event for female ski jumpers, the International Olympic Committee won’t recognize the results or hand out medals,” read the story, which was published yesterday.
This July the B.C. Supreme Court ruled VANOC didn’t have to host the event, delivering yet another blow to the group of female ski jumpers, led by Women’s Ski Jumping USA. The jumpers argued VANOC was in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by allowing men to jump but not women. The ruling is now in appeal until Aug. 12.
The report also told of Pound’s belief that if the court sided with the women jumpers it would “eliminate any chance Canada has of hosting another Olympic Games.”
“This is a very important point. We would screw Canada’s chances of ever getting major events again,” Pound was quoted in the report. “Like the Olympics again some day.”
Pound also told the Sun that the International Ski Federation (FIS) would refuse to provide officials for the contest.
“If [the court] orders VANOC to put on the event, there will be ski jumping. But the IOC is not going to consider them an Olympic event or award medals,” said Pound. “As night follows day, that will be the result.”
Pound’s comments came after an IOC session in Copenhagen where head of the women in sport commission, Anita DeFrantz, voiced her personal view that the IOC was discriminating against female ski jumpers.
“Discrimination is treating a certain group of people in a way that you haven’t treated other people,” DeFrantz said. “So for them to say that there are too few athletes in ski jumping, that you can’t jump, is wrong.”
Pound maintains that the IOC has long been an advocate for the equality of women athletes and said that the jumpers “are getting some very bad advice” in their battle with the IOC.
“We appear as an easy target, but we should make it very clear with our record in our efforts to improve the percentage of female athletes at the Games that we are seeking ways to add women to the program, and not the reverse. This decision was entirely technical,” said Pound in the report.
IOC President Jacques Rogge shares Pound’s view.
“When the court issued its finding we issued a press release saying really clearly that we did not accept that there was any form of discrimination,” he said. “When the IOC executive board again decided to include women’s boxing it was reiterated that this was the sign that we had absolutely no discriminatory attitude towards women in sport.”