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Five female ski jumpers have been disqualified from the mixed team event at the Beijing Winter Olympics in a move that many are now questioning.
The five athletes are representing Austria, Germany, Japan and Norway.
According to reports, the women were banned from the event because their outfits were considered too baggy, despite the clothing previously being approved for other competitions.
Having baggy clothing is believed to give skiers more airtime, which is reportedly what brought about the disqualifications.
Katharina Althaus, a disqualified skier representing Germany, told Yahoo!Sports, 'The [International Ski Federation] destroyed everything with this operation. I think they have destroyed women’s ski jumping.'
Althaus, who has competed in three Olympic games and won a silver medal in 2018, said her 'heart is broken' over the decision.
She has never before been disqualified, adding, 'I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once. I know my suit was compliant.'
Karl Geiger, a fellow German ski jumper, also commented on the decision, saying, 'We stick together no matter what.'
However, Geiger was quick to question why the disqualification seemed to just apply to females.
He added, 'Nevertheless, I have to ask myself whether the regulations for the women were changed overnight, with so many disqualifications?!?'
The skier then said 'it was neither the right time nor the right place to disqualify so many athletes from different nations'.
Sharing these sentiments, coach for the German team Stefan Horngacher said, 'It is just strange that they have been using the same suits yesterday and there was no problem.'
Clas Brede Braathen, a Norwegian ski jumping boss, said, 'I’m lost for words, really. This is very painful for the athletes. I’m in pain on behalf of our sport. We were going to introduce a new event. The girls were to get a new event in the Olympics, and that’s how it ends. And why are only girls being disqualified?'
While it is still unclear what prompted the sudden change, it is a blow for equality in skiing.
It has taken years for women's ski jumping to be added to the Olympics, with sexist and ill informed arguments in the past preventing progress.
For instance, in 2005 Gian Franco Kaspa, the former head of the International Ski Federation, made the baseless argument that the women, who are professionally trained to jump, should not take part in the sport because it involved jumping.
He said, 'Don’t forget it’s like jumping down ... on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.'
Women's ski jumping was only added to the Games in 2014, while mixed team jumping only started this year.
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