VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A British Columbia Court of Appeal heard arguments Thursday about why female ski jumpers should have the right to compete at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Fourteen women are appealing a British Columbia Supreme Court ruling that found the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee does not have the power to change a decision made by the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC voted in 2006 against including women’s ski jumping in the 2010 Games, saying the sport had not developed enough to meet the basic criteria for participation.

The women skiers argue that the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee, VANOC, is subject to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its failure to include women’s ski jumping is discrimination since there will be men’s ski jumping at the games.

American jumper Lindsey Van said the case is about fighting for the Olympic ideal.

“You have to have hope and show up or you’re already defeated,” she said.

Ross Clark, the lawyer representing the women, told the panel of three judges that the Canadian government cannot decide that Swiss law applies on Canadian soil.

“(Canada) cannot host the games contrary to the Charter. The IOC cannot force VANOC or anyone else here to violate the laws of Canada,” he said.

Clark asked the court to rule that the organizing committee must inform the IOC that the women should be included in the games.

If the court refuses to do so, Clark said his clients might ask the committee to cancel the men’s ski jumping events or hold them elsewhere.

VANOC spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade said the organizing committee will abide by the IOC’s decision.

The court appeared sympathetic to the jumpers.

“We know VANOC has done everything it can to include women ski jumpers,” said Justice Anne Rowles. “The IOC has turned a deaf ear to it.”

Clark said if the jumpers receive the declaration they seek and VANOC and the IOC do not comply, they would seek a court injunction to stop the discrimination.

The group of women will be in court on Friday and hope that a decision will be reached by the end of Friday’s proceedings.

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