ISAF Annual Conference 2006
Date: Monday 27 November 2006
Location: Helsinki, Finland
ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE) answers your questions today in the first part of http://www.sailing.orgs/ Ask the President feature. The main focus of questions submitted was Olympic Sailing and today the President concentrates his responses on this area.
Following the conclusion of the 2006 ISAF Annual Conference, http://www.sailing.org/ gave sailors everywhere a chance to pose their questions about the discussions and decisions to the ISAF President.
Tomorrow, the second and concluding part of the Ask the President feature will be published on http://www.sailing.org/.
Each question is published along with the name of the person who posed it. The President’s responses are in italics.
Selecting Olympic Events
John Greenwood, Great Britain
The Conference agreed to reduce the events in the Olympic Competition from 11 to ten. Eight of the existing events are split equally in terms of male/female participation (single handed dinghies, double handed dinghies, boards and keelboats). What do you think are the main drivers behind Olympic event selection?
First of all, just to clarify your initial point. The IOC decides the number of events in each sport. They have told ISAF that for the London 2012 Olympic Games there will be ten sailing events with a total of 380 competitors. Sailing is one of several sports which has had the number of events (medals) and athletes reduced for the 2012 Olympic Games.
In terms of event selection, first of all the event should meet the IOC criteria laid out in the Olympic Charter [under Chapter 5, Clause 47]. Then ISAF’s criteria for selecting Events and Equipment is laid out in Regulation 16.1.5.
The Olympics are the pinnacle of global sport and a showcase that can bring sailing to the world. But it is a competitive arena. We must ensure the Olympic sailing events can stand up to this competition. Sailing is a very diverse world, and the Olympic sailing events should reflect this.
Sailing has a very proud history of being a sport on 23 Olympic Games to date. We should respect this tradition but also have to reflect where our sport is now. The traditionalists might be shocked, but we have to accept that sailing needs to change to ensure its place as an Olympic sport.
We also have to take into consideration participation. ISAF would like to see more nations competing in the Olympic Games – in fact this is a task I have challenged to the Youth and Development Committee and the ISAF Council at this year’s Conference in Helsinki. We have been very successful in increasing participation by women – this is a balance we must also maintain in future Olympic sailing.
Lars Tomasgaard, Norway
Has team racing been proposed as a new Olympic sailing event?
Well, at the ISAF Council meeting in Helsinki it was decided to set up a working party to look at the events for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. The working part will report to Council at the 2007 Mid-Year Meeting in May. There the Council will decide a list of possible events, which will then be the events from which ISAF will select the ten events for 2012. This decision will take place at the 2007 ISAF Annual Conference in Athens, Greece [Regulation 16.1.1].
In selecting the ten events for the Olympic Games, we are limited by the overall athlete quota of 380 athletes, and we have to achieve the appropriate balance of athlete places across those events. Team Racing is most usual as a three boat team, with six athletes per nation, which if we wanted to ensure say ten nations in that event at the Olympics, would be 60 athletes place. Whilst two-boat team racing is possible, we would still be looking at 40 athlete places for ten nations to participate. These are a few of the many complexities which the Olympic Equipment and Events Selection Working Party will be considering.
Of course any event must meet ISAF’s selection criteria which are covered in a question above.
I was at the ISAF World Sailing Games in Austria in May and the team racing event there was a massive success. It is definitely a very exciting part of our sport and one that has grown impressively over the last few years.
Scott Fox, USA
I like the idea of a World Cup circuit. Skiing has successfully done this for years. However, one major hurdle for sailors to compete (and for the circuit to grow beyond the current fleet at these events) is the cost, availability and logistics of shipping "equipment" between events. Does ISAF have any plans for engaging a shipping company to make this happen, either at a heavily discounted rate or even for free in return for advertising and/or sponsorship by the shipping company?
The ISAF World Cup is a really exciting development for the sport, and although it presents plenty of challenges it also provides a fantastic opportunity for us to take sailing to the world.
With a more definite structure the World Cup will be designed to make getting sailors and equipment to venues as easy as possible. Of course the World Cup will also provide a fantastic opportunity for sponsors and advertising. ISAF has a lot of work to do over the coming year to put everything in place for the launch of the World Cup. The shipping issue is certainly something at the forefront of our minds and I can assure you it’s an area we’ll be working very hard on.
Ben Remocker, Canada
Why was the 2008 Olympic venue selected to be Qingdao, a location now notorious for having more tide than wind, while there are 3,000 km of coastline in China? Has ISAF prepared a response when spectators comment that sailing is not a sport after observing us race in drifter conditions rewarding the most anorexic among us?
Ultimately the decision on the venues for the Olympic sports within a country is the responsibility of the bidding city. The bidding city’s selection of the sports venues will include suitability for the specific sport, together with financial and political requirements.
All Olympic sports are invited to visit the proposed venues which will host their sport in advance of the IOC making its final selection of the host city. ISAF made site inspections of each of the sailing venues of the respective cities bidding to host the 2008 Olympic Games.
Of course, each Olympic sport confirms the standards and preferred conditions they seek to achieve from an Olympic venue, but these are not criteria that an Olympic sport can dictate.
We are all aware that the conditions in Qingdao are challenging. However, sailing is a challenging sport with no two days out on the water the same - that is part of the diversity of our sport.
At this year’s Test Event we all got to see the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre close to its full glory and it really is a magnificent venue for our sport, which will also leave a lasting legacy in the city. The people of Qingdao also showed their support for sailing, with 50,000 tickets sold during the regatta. At this year’s Conference we also received a very positive report on the Test Event from the Technical Delegate David KELLETT. I think that this year Qingdao proved, that whilst there are still challenges ahead, they will host a fantastic and memorable Olympic Sailing Competition.