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Skiing - 29. May 2008.

Olympic bosses must rethink exclusion of women ski jumpers

The Province

Published: Sunday, January 06, 2008

There is no compelling reason why women ski jumpers should not be allowed to participate in the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympics.

Their exclusion, defended by the International Olympic Committee on the flimsiest of pretexts, risks giving the Games an international black mark for blatant gender discrimination.

To be fair, the IOC is not solely at fault. Foot-dragging by the ruling body of ski jumping, the International Ski Federation, is also to blame. Only in 2006 did the federation finally decide it would let women's ski jumping be included in a world championship event, to take place next year in the Czech Republic.

Such an event is a prerequisite for a sport to achieve Olympic status. So, admittedly, time is short.

But, with such an important principle at stake, it's time to cut the red tape. The IOC has until now resisted pressure from Vancouver 2010 organizers to rethink its 2006 decision not to include the sport. And the women ski jumpers are beside themselves with rage at their exclusion.

The argument from the IOC that there are too few competitors from too few nations is no longer convincing.

The new ski jump at Whistler Olympic Park in the Callahan Valley is getting rave reviews from competitors at events held there this weekend.

It would be a wonderfully appropriate venue to celebrate in 2010 the fall of one of the final barriers to gender equality in Olympic competition.

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