Aug 14, 2012, 1:01 PM
Post #1 of 9
ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH THE OLYMPIC SAILING EVENT
Paul Henderson: All that is wrong with the Olympic Sailing Event
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By Paul Henderson
There is nothing as useless as a Past ISAF President or IOC Member (retired) but here I go anyway. I have just returned after three weeks at the 2012 Olympics, living in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hotel and making the trip to Weymouth to do my usual stroll through the boat park to take flak from the sailors. The discussions about ISAF and the changes in the Events were disconcerting to say the least.
Many IOC members cannot believe what has happened, and they are the ones who vote to keep Sailing as an Olympic event. The sailors in the events being eliminated (men's and women's windsurfing and men's keelboat) are livid. They are lashing out at other disciplines, promoting their bias which only does a disservice to sailing in total.
Saying the need for keelboat facilities escalates the cost is just not true as the cranes, boat park, etc are needed for the Paralympics. Properly designed Olympic marinas leave a great legacy as happened in Kingston, Barcelona and now Weymouth, which has given the UK a wonderful sailing venue. The cost of the equipment is also a poor argument, as it is only a small part of the cost of an Olympic campaign. The top racing bicycles, any horse, or racing eight are equally as expensive as any Sailing equipment.
London 2012 Sailing at Weymouth was spectacular with 15 different countries winning medals. Seventy nations qualified to compete, several small nations medaled - like Cyprus - and 4 out of the 5 continents were represented on the podium. All this begs the question: Why tamper with success? (I asked the same question about America's Cup after AC 32 in Valencia, but that is another subject.)
Never before in any Olympic Sport's history has its International Federation voted to change 40% of their Events in one Olympiad. These are very trying and uncertain economic times. Maybe the wealthy countries can move from one discipline to another, but the smaller countries who have invested in training youth, classes, coaches and all that entails cannot.
The decision to hold the 2016 Olympics in Rio is a very bold IOC move, going to a new continent with all the challenges facing Brazil (which just happens to be one of ISAF’s most supportive MNAs). It should also be noted that ISAF only recommends to the IOC that changes be made to the Sailing events; the IOC has the final say.
The IOC endorsement has yet to be addressed at their headquarters in Lausanne, and will only be done after the ISAF Annual General Meeting in November with its dramatic change in leadership. IOC also has rules with regard to how developed a discipline is, especially with regard to World Championships, the number of nations represented, and the quality of the competition format.
During my ISAF Presidency on the floor of Council, a decision was made to have no drop races and all hell broke out and the sailors rebelled. ISAF quickly reversed that vote and we moved on admitting the mistake made. With all things considered, I believe ISAF should reverse its course too, and continue with the 2012 events for RIO2016, and do everything possible to get the 11th Medal back for a multihull event, the loss of which started Sailing down the slippery slope to the dilemma Olympic sailing now finds itself.