Paris 2024: The road forward
Published on November 3rd, 2019
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When the International Olympic Committee published in December 2014 the document, Olympic Agenda 2020, it put forth 40 detailed recommendations to shape the future of the Olympic Movement. For the invited Sports, it put each on notice that the competition programs they advance need to change or be changed.
Sailing has a long and suffering history of changing events, with each change impacting the investment in equipment and human commitment. After Sailing already made significant changes in their program for the Rio 2016 Olympics, World Sailing took the bold decision to ignore the IOC mandate, and maintain the same program for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
This came as a significant relief to its Member Nations but the IOC did not appreciate the choice, penalizing Sailing by reducing the number of athletes permitted to compete from 380 to 350.
Realizing they needed to get in step or risk losing more athletes, or worse, one or more of their ten events, World Sailing launched a thorough review to determine the best course forward to meet the new standards of gender balance, universality in equipment, and event uniqueness.
The Olympic Games belongs to the IOC, and if a sport wants to participate, they need to dance to the music being played. But change from the top down has implications downstream, requiring World Sailing to determine how best to serve its sport while meeting the IOC requirements.
I have witnessed the process to develop the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Program, and have gained substantial respect for the committee members who have navigated the situation. The conditions are complex, and not well-served by an internet culture quick to criticize, but the goal was to secure the status of Olympic Sailing, and there is high confidence this has been done.
The ten Sailing events for the Paris 2024 were confirmed at the 2019 World Sailing Annual Conference, with the details to be further refined before the IOC gives final confirmation late next year. While Tokyo 2020 is the end of the road for the Finn Class (used since 1952) and the RS:X Class (used since 2008), here is now the list of Events and Equipment for Paris 2024:
Men’s Windsurfer – iFoil
Women’s Windsurfer – iFoil
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Mixed Kite – Formula Kite
Mixed Two Person Dinghy – 470
Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17
Mixed Two Person Keelboat Offshore – TBC*
*The criteria for suitable Equipment for the Mixed Offshore qualification events will be published no later than December 31, 2020. At the same time, an additional set of criteria will be published for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games Equipment. The recommendation also stated that the Equipment for Paris 2024 will be selected no later than December 31, 2023.