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Olympic Critics Challenge Vancouver Ad Ban

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - Critics of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics say the host city enacted an unconstitutional bylaw aimed at restricting unauthorized advertising during the Winter Games.

Plaintiffs Chris Shaw, author of the book "Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games," and Andrea Westergard-Thorpe are members of the Olympic Resistance Network. The anti-Olympics group plans to distribute information about the games to residents and visitors during the "games period," which runs from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2010.

But the city's "Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Bylaw," the complaint says, aims to restrict any advertising material being distributed on city lands.

"The purpose and effect of the [bylaw] is to restrict the content of public expression and communication within and around large and central areas of Vancouver," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim that the restrictive provisions infringe on free speech and "cannot be justified in a free and democratic society."

They add that the city's charter doesn't grant it the right to enact such a law.

Represented by Jason Gratl, the plaintiffs seek an order nullifying the bylaw and barring its enforcement.

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