Human-rights battle for ski jumpers

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

Canada's women's ski jumping team is asking the Canadian Human Rights Commission to help it get to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The athletes are fighting November's International Olympic Committee decision to exclude women's ski jumping from the Vancouver Olympics.

Jan Willis, mother of skier Katie Willis, alleges the Department of Canadian Heritage is conspiring with the IOC against female athletes.

"The facility constructed with financial support from the federal government essentially bears a 'Men Only' sign and we assert that such discrimination is contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act," Jan Willis wrote.

Men will vie for Olympic gold at Callaghan Valley in three years and six days. Women's ski jumping is contested by athletes from 13 nations on three continents at 26 annual competitions. Its first world championship is scheduled for 2009.

The ski jumpers' lawyer Nina Reid conceded the Canadian Human Rights Commission can't compel the IOC change, but it can exert pressure.

"If the IOC refuses to reverse their decision, then the federal government has to decide, do they want to cut funding or do something to disrupt the Olympics?" Reid said.


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