Continuity Prevails for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Published on November 10th, 2016

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When I interviewed World Sailing President Carlo Croce during the Rio 2016 Olympics, I asked him about the events for Tokyo 2020. I knew it was a troubling topic for him, but he did not shy away.

“We decided to ask our members to vote for what we call the unlock vote, which meant we had to unlock the decision taken four years ago to keep the same Olympic events from the 2016 Games to the 2020 Games. We were pushed hard by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to move forward to a more spectacular program. There will be five new sports in Tokyo and six current sports under review, not for pushing them out, but to look what they can do for improving, and sailing is amongst the six.”

Croce knew continuity was vital for the athletes and nations, but he also knew none of it would matter if the IOC eliminated Sailing as an Olympic sport. However, that was in August, and now we learn the climate has changed.

World Sailing distributed this update on November 10, 2016:

The President, Carlo Croce, with the support of all Board members, has decided, following his most recent communications with the IOC, that he, as President, shall not propose an alternative Olympic slate to Council in February 2017. This means that World Sailing would propose the existing 10 Events and Equipment for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition.

In addition, World Sailing will continue to pursue the possibility of an 11th Medal in 2020 with the IOC on the basis that the total number of athletes remains at 380. Furthermore, World Sailing is also exploring the possibility of a showcase sailing event in Tokyo which if agreed would be over and above the existing athlete quota. The Board believes this strategy best protects existing investments and programmes, whilst enabling World Sailing to demonstrate innovation to the IOC.

The Board will continue to support changes in format and fleet sizes to best meet the objectives of the IOC’s Agenda 2020. These decisions will be made in accordance with normal World Sailing processes.

Regarding gender equity, the IOC has confirmed that gender equity in 2020 may be assessed at a “sport level” (i.e. on the basis of total number of athletes in each sport). Hence, World Sailing can meet IOC’s gender equity requirements in 2020 with appropriate fleet quota changes, within sailing’s current 10 Events and can seek to achieve gender equity at an event level by 2024.

After the Olympics, I published a report, Event Decisions for Tokyo 2020 Games, in which I commented on the current format of the Sailing Events:

“From the outside, all the Sailing events look too similar. We have ten events diving off the same 10m platform but wearing different bathing suits. For sailors, the differences are critical. For the other 95% of the people that watch the Games, not so much. Sailing needs more obvious variation in its events. A steady diet of similar boats on windward-leeward racing won’t cut it.”

With regard to the ‘showcase sailing event’ mentioned in the statement, it is my understanding that Team Racing is under review. For a sport needing to better showcase itself, Team Racing would be a brilliant shift from the current menu of events. Fingers crossed!

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