Passports and Nationality

Published on February 18th, 2019

The regime representing Golden Gate Yacht Club sought to create fan interest in the America’s Cup while hosting in 2013 and 2017, yet unwilling to use the big hammer in the tool box. New fans cheer for national teams, yet neither event had a nationality clause that would do it.

Defender Oracle Team USA stayed with their band of Southern Hemisphere brothers rather than develop an authentically American team, but now with the Kiwis and Italians in charge of the 2021 America’s Cup, both value the benefits with such a clause.

Their event Protocol finally has some teeth…. or does it? This report comes from Jack Griffin of Cup Experience:

The Protocol has a clear definition of “nationality” and requires 100% of the race crews in the Challenger Selection Series and the Match to have the “nationality” of the country of their yacht club. There are two ways to have “nationality” –

• be a “national” (citizen) of the country.
• have your “principal place of residence” in that country, as evidenced by three tests, all of which must be met:
– be present 380 days during the two years to 31 August 2020
– permanent-not-temporary residence
– economic or social ties, e.g. property ownership

Responding to a request for interpretation made by the Malta Altus Challenge, the Arbitration Panel ruled that as long as a sailor is a citizen of the team’s country when they race, they meet the nationality requirement. This is not a “liberal interpretation” of the Protocol; it is a strict reading, including the dictionary definition of “national.”

Will the Arbitration Panel need to rule in 2021 on cases with questions of whether “principal place of residence” has been established?

Will the Arbitration Panel’s ruling allow the Malta Altus Challenge to recruit international sailors without them needing to establish residence? Maybe not. The “GoldenVisas” website shows that €1.2 million, plus one year of residence, are needed for investors to receive citizenship.

Citizenship for sailors would logically be part of the deal the team wants to negotiate with the government. But the Malta Times reports that no progress has been made on a deal in the two months since the challenge was announced.

A Protocol amendment could change the nationality rule to add a date by which someone would need to become a naturalized citizen. The Challenger of Record – Luna Rossa (ITA) – has stated that they would not request such an amendment since it would be unfair to change this rule after the fact.

How does the Protocol compare with the Olympics on citizenship? About the same, really. Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter requires all athletes to be citizens of the country they represent. A theoretical three year waiting period to change countries can be waived if both countries concerned agree.

Russia and Belarus are two countries that provide “fast-track naturalization” for athletes who “present exceptional benefits to the state.” American gymnast Kylie Dickson lives and trains in Los Angeles. Not quite good enough to make the American team, she was granted Belarusian citizenship to compete in Rio, even without visiting Belarus. American basketball player Becky Hammon did not make the US women’s basketball team, but was granted Russian citizenship to play in Beijing and London.

Another American, J.R. Holden, was on the Russian national men’s basketball team in Beijing. And South Korean born short track speed skater Ahn Hyun-soo won 3 gold medals and a bronze as a Russian in Sochi 2014 after his 3 golds and a bronze at Torino 2006 skating for South Korea.

In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and The Netherlands have also been accepted. Here’s the current list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT)
• Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA)

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched
2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match


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