Youth Worlds – Organisers in hot seat after Israel sailors excluded

Published on December 29th, 2015

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com NZL
Two Israeli windsurfers and their coach have effectively been denied their right to compete in the Youth Sailing World Championships, which are underway in Langkawi, Malaysia.

Israel is the defending champion in the Boys Windsurfer event, and a repeat of their 2014 success is clearly too big a dead rat for the Malaysians to swallow.

Malaysia is a long time supporter of Palestine, which they are perfectly entitled to be. But the requirements of World Sailing, the re-branded International Sailing Federation are equally clear – that all member nations in good standing are entitled to enter a team in the pinnacle event for Youth Sailing.

The Notice of Race for the regatta issued in early December 2014 has the International Sailing Federation and Malaysian Sailing Association named as joint event organisers.

Clause 3.5 of that Notice of Race states “A MNA (Member National Authority) in good standing with ISAF may enter one crew in all or any of the following events:”

The Notice then lists nine events that will be contested. These Events closely mirror the Olympic Sailing competition, for which this regatta is a major stepping stone.

Many Olympic Gold medalists champions have been winners at the ISAF Youth Worlds, including Sir Ben Ainslie, Sir Russell Coutts, Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen. (For the full list click here).

The ISAF/World Sailing Youth Worlds is a prestigious regatta, ranking just below the Olympic Regatta itself, and is similar in format.

From information obtained by Sail-World it is clear that the ISAF/World Sailing had been aware of the Israeli visa situation for three months at least and had been trying to resolve the impasse between the conflict with the Malaysian Sailing Association, the Malaysian Government and satisfy the requirements of the World Sailing Youth Championship which allowed open entry to all countries, including Israel.

The Israel Sailing Association made their entry for a coach and two sailors in the Boys and Girls Windsurfing event sailed on RS:X boards, the same as used in Olympic competition.

In mid-October, the request for entry was made by the Malaysian Sailing Association to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a government body charged with the issuing of entry visas.

The request for the visa for the Israelis was rejected two weeks later, on November 5 by the Malaysian Government on security grounds. However, there was an indication that the Government would listen to open discussion. Most Governments deal with such conflicts by issuing short-term visas in situations that are the exception to Government policy.

A further meeting took place on November 30, but with the same outcome as the November 5 meeting – Visas were refused for the Israeli Youth Team on security grounds.

The matter was then escalated to the Malaysian Cabinet, by the Malaysian Sailing Association, but still an exception still would not be made.

Abhorrent deal
At a subsequent meeting with Government officials a tentative offer was made to the Israel Sailing Association subject to the following conditions:
1. The Israeli team had to compete on an anonymous basis.
2. The team had to compete as an ISAF team and not representing Israel.
3. They could only take indirect flights via Singapore to Langkawi (these were believed to have been booked, by the Israelis.)
4. The Israeli team were not permitted to display any names, flags, logos, theme, colors that would indicate that they were representing Israel and had to portray themselves as representing the ISAF/World Sailing.
5. The playing of the Israeli national anthem was also prohibited.

Read on for the rest of the story – Sail-World.com NZL

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