Last Call for Finn Olympians
Published on May 10th, 2019
Olympic sailing champion Giles Scott says Tokyo 2020 is likely to be his last Games after the Finn class was cut from the Paris 2024 line-up. The Finn is set to be replaced by a mixed two-person keelboat offshore event.
World Sailing is attempting to improve the gender diversity of the sport but its strategy has been criticized by many Olympic sailors.
“It’s a great shame,” Scott, 31, told BBC Sport. “I understand what World Sailing has tried to do, but it’s fair to say the way in which it’s unfolding has been a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.
“I understand the sport has to move on and adapt with the times, but for some of the younger guys coming through, who are restricted to the class because of their size, they’re having their Olympic dream taken away from them.”
The Finn is typically sailed by taller and heavier male athletes such as Sir Ben Ainslie – he claimed three of his four Olympic gold medals in the class – and is the longest-serving class in the Olympics, having made its debut in 1952.
After an initial proposal to drop the Finn in November 2017 drew criticism, a compromise was suggested which would have seen the Finn incorporated as part of a new mixed gender multi-discipline team event with two other classes.
However, with no obvious heavyweight single-handed dinghy for women identified, the idea was ultimately dismissed last year and the Finn’s removal was confirmed.
Following the decision, the International Finn Association (IFA) stated that it felt the class had become “collateral damage in the quest for gender equality and Olympic TV rights income for World Sailing”.
World Sailing says it is “fully embracing” the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic Agenda 2020 strategy of proposing events for Paris 2024 that are “gender equal, youthful, and universal”.
World Sailing will officially announce the line-up for Paris 2024 later in 2019 with only three of those included in Tokyo 2020 – the Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX – currently confirmed.
Scott, who combines dinghy sailing with a role as a tactician for Sir Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK, now plans to move full-time into America’s Cup sailing after the 2020 Olympics.
“As it stands it [Tokyo 2020] will be the last Olympic Finn gold medal that you could ever possibly win, so it does add that little bit of incentive,” he said.
“Last time around for Rio I did have a bit of a dual role, but I suppose I was 80% Olympic campaign and 20% America’s Cup campaign, whereas now it’s very much a 50-50 split.
“It’s hard to manage both. It is do-able and if I can win my last race in a Finn out in Tokyo, then that would be a great way to sign off as an Olympic sailor.”