News about the Summer and Winter Games
Our interactive map of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games covers the sporting venues and sightseeing spots in the host city, the Whistler skiing village and the scenic Sea to Sky highway connecting the two towns.
(2008 Olympic medalists from Japan, the United States and Australia make the case for their sport at the end of the Beijing Olympic competition. Associated Press / Amy Sancetta)
Next Thursday, when its executive board announces the two sports chosen for possible addition to the 2016 Summer Games, the International Olympic Committee has another chance to make a better statement about its support for female athletes than the one it issued after a Canadian judge said the IOC had discriminated by not allowing female ski jumpers into the 2010 Winter Olympics.
All the IOC has to do is pick softball, a women's Olympic sport that has been a solid addition to the program of four Summer Games before being dropped after 2008, partly because IOC member Jim Easton of the United States took the ethical high ground, a position many IOC members rarely stake out.
More on that later.
The ski jumpers are appealing British Columbia Supreme Court justice Lauri Ann Fenlon's decision, which came down a month ago, but it seems unlikely they will win.
A group of female ski jumpers will appeal a court decision that prevents them from competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. According to the group's lawyer, the appeal will argue that the organizers of the Winter Games must abide by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "It cannot host events on Canadian soil that implement discrimination," Ross Clark said in a statement. The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled last week the International Olympic Committee is discriminating against the ski jumpers by keeping them from the games. But the judge said the court did not have the power to order the sport be part of the the Olympics. -- Debbie Goffa
A group of female ski jumpers will appeal a court decision that prevents them from competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
According to the group's lawyer, the appeal will argue that the organizers of the Winter Games must abide by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"It cannot host events on Canadian soil that implement discrimination," Ross Clark said in a statement.
The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled last week the International Olympic Committee is discriminating against the ski jumpers by keeping them from the games. But the judge said the court did not have the power to order the sport be part of the the Olympics.
-- Debbie Goffa
A bid by female ski jumpers to be included in the next Winter Olympics was rejected by a judge in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Fifteen jumpers had sued the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) over their exclusion from the Games, saying that it violated Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Judge Lauri Ann Fenlon agreed that the plaintiffs "will be denied this opportunity for no reason other than their sex," but said the International Olympic Committee -- which determines which sports are included in the Olympic program -- is not bound by Canada's Charter.
"There will be little solace to the plaintiffs in my finding that they have been discriminated against [but] there is no remedy available to them in this Court," she wrote in a decision released today.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott
I know the case will depend on a judge's interpretation of whether Canadian laws about gender discrimination apply to an Olympics in Canada rather than to the competitive merit of having women ski jumpers in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
I also know that one of the International Olympic Committee's reasons to keep women jumpers out is totally specious and that the other is debatable.
The IOC claims jumping does not meet its universality standards, which I pointed out was patently wrong in a Blog after Lindsey Van of Park City, Utah, won the gold medal when women's jumping made its world championship debut in February.
But I also noted the dramatic drop in quality from first to 10th at those worlds, which would seem to support the IOC argument about the discipline not being developed enough to get into the Olympics.
I have changed my mind about the quality issue after looking back at what happened when the women's pole vault made its Olympic debut in 2000.
Go deep into the results of the 30 competitors in Sydney, and you will find that an 18-year-old Russian was among four women who failed three times to clear her first height, 13 feet, 1 1/2 inches, nearly two feet below the eventual winning height of U.S. vaulter Stacy Dragila.
On the surface, one might think that showed that the field had to be padded with vaulters who didn't belong, even if the Russian in question performed below her past standard and even if good vaulters sometimes fail to clear a height.
But when I think about those caveats, I realize they are no different from the response Van gave when I asked her about the quality at worlds:
"With any sport, there is a drop in the middle of the field,'' she said. "There were really tough conditions, snowing off and on all day, with the wind blowing like a tornado at times, coming from all directions.
"I don't think these results show the entire level of the sport. It is pretty obvious we are capable of having a sport worthy of the world championships and Olympics.''
And I would back that by maintaining the 18-year-old Russian vaulter has done pretty well since 2000, when she was motivated by a failure that made her seem unqualified for the Summer Games. Her record? Two Olympic gold medals, five world titles, 26 world records and the 10 highest leaps in history, topping out at 16 feet, 6 3/4 inches.
"Where you start,'' this vaulter has said, "isn't necessarily where you end up.''
So I hope Judge Lauri Ann Fenlon sides with the women ski jumpers in a hearing that is to end today. That would give jumping the start it needs to end up giving more young women a new outlet for their competitive urges, just as pole vaulting has done.
But I would rather see the IOC preempt the outcome — better late than never — by agreeing on its own to let the women jump. Doing the right thing before the judge rules would also allow the IOC to avoid a possibly precedent-setting decision that might affect its sovereignty over the operation of the Olympics.
To the IOC, I offer exhibit No. 1:
— Philip Hersh
Photos: Vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, top, has soared to Olympian heights. Ski jumper Lindsey Van, right, would like the same opportunity. Credit: Getty Images