World Sailing Presidential Update – March 2020
Published on April 2nd, 2020
World Sailing President Kim Andersen delivers his monthly newsletter to share the activities from the world governing body for the sport of sailing.
Since the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the situation has quickly evolved from a national challenge to a continental one, and now we are realizing the global perspective of the pandemic.
We now realize the magnitude of COVID-19; the virus has spread with unprecedented rage and now the world has come to halt. The health and safety of the global population has been the first priority, and World Sailing’s thoughts are with everyone worldwide fighting the virus.
Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of communication and information sharing within the sailing community, and I would like to address you all with an update on recent proceedings.
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
I would like to thank all of our Member National Authorities, the Medical Commission, and organizers working closely and swiftly with the World Sailing team to adapt, change, and communicate as fast as possible. To think back now on what any government or international body should have done or could have done in time has no value. Everybody has acted in the best way within the available time frame for decision-making.
Within World Sailing, we have had extensive dialogue with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the future of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Up until the day the IOC postponed Tokyo 2020, we were working closely with our sailing community to adapt to the ever-changing situation, and working with the IOC on how to deal with qualification events.
While a cancellation could have been decided by the IOC alone, it goes without saying that a decision on a postponement could only be taken with the Organizing Committee and the Japanese authorities being on board.
It is now clear, as agreed by the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach, and confirmed by the IOC Executive Board, that Tokyo 2020 will take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021. The name will remain as “Tokyo 2020,” to honor the preparations and history.
Now we have a ‘new’ unprecedented challenge ahead of us – the organization of the postponed Olympic Games. This is a first in the history of the Olympic movement. It will be a huge undertaking because, as you are well aware, the Olympic Games are the most complex peaceful event on this planet.
With the postponement, it does leave some questions. So, what does this mean for the Olympic sailing competition?
We can confirm that nations who have qualified already for Tokyo 2020 will retain their quota places, despite the postponement of the Games. However, given the situation, the remaining continental qualifiers are suspended.
World Sailing is actively following the development of the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe, but we are now confident that, with consultation with the IOC, we will be able to complete our outstanding qualification events for Africa, Asia, and Europe before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.
If it proves to be impossible to host fair qualification events, we will have a system in place to allocate the remaining 15% of quota places using historical results, in order to give athletes time to prepare with certainty.
The financial impact from the postponement of Tokyo 2020 is to be clarified. World Sailing, like many International Federations (IFs), relies heavily on the revenue share of the Olympic Games. Together with other IFs, in close cooperation with the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), we are in dialogue with the IOC for bridging the postponement period financially.
The World Sailing Board of Directors, together with the organization, are taking a proactive approach and exploring all the options available, such as public support, supplier relief, our own funds and savings linked to the lockdown period.
For the Paris 2024 Events, we have asked the IOC to confirm the timeline or updated process in place for completing the Program Commission review. Any changes to the timeline or process will have a big impact on World Sailing, as many of our athletes are already focused on and training for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
For the 2021 World Cup Series events, World Sailing’s Council approved a new events strategy that utilizes existing events and has an events calendar that regulates windows for events on the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. This will protect the traditional events and help support sailors, class associations and event organizers in their planning.
From 2021, all graded events worldwide will be part of the Hempel World Cup Series. The events will be ranked based on the quality of the ranked sailors participating. World Sailing will showcase three World Cup events with the highest-ranked sailors, by engaging with the events and using our media platform to showcase the highest level of our sport. The priority is to ideally showcase World Cup events from three different continents.
Event organizers of existing events in 2021 could include the new slate of events for Paris 2024 and the Tokyo 2020 events in order to showcase the sport and the best sailors.
In the foreseeable future, we will continue to see events throughout all sports either suspended or cancelled. This a major setback for all the stakeholders in our sport, but we need to continue to act responsibly and to remain optimistic about the future. For sure, the experience gained from the pandemic will influence the way we think and act in the future.
Sailing is a lifelong sport and lifestyle; it has a strong legacy, strong values, and a strong connection to nature. We will make the most of it for new and existing sailors when we return to the ‘new normality.’
This new situation will need all our solidarity, creativity, determination, and flexibility. We all need to make sacrifices and compromises.
Take care and stay safe to all of you!
Although many of you are unfortunately not able to get out onto the water right now, there’s still a way to enjoy the sport of sailing from your own homes!
There has been a huge rise in the number of players on Virtual Regatta, World Sailing’s official eSailing partner.
The number of daily active users on Virtual Regatta Inshore has shot up from 5,000 at the start of the year to around 18,000-20,000 last week, with a peak of 25,000 so far!
And on Virtual Regatta Offshore, we are currently seeing highs of 70,000 daily active users – up from 40,000-50,000 at the start of the year.
Virtual Regatta closely mimics key aspects of real-life sailing, with players able to make decisions based on the direction and strength of the wind, for example, during races.
Because of this, many professional sailors enjoy playing the game – just two weeks ago, the first eSailGP Pop-Up Qualifier was won by Joan Cardona of the Spain SailGP Team!
During this downtime for the sport, World Sailing & Virtual Regatta are promoting several exciting events for eSailors to take part in. This week it was announced that several cancelled real-life regattas – Trofeo Princesa Sofia, Hempel World Cup Series Genoa and Kiel Week – will be recreated on Virtual Regatta, while The Great Escape, a virtual offshore race from La Rochelle to Curacao, attracted 125,000 players.
World Sailing have also joined up with several MNAs to launch National eSailing Championships, and I would encourage any MNA interested in doing the same to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’ve never played Virtual Regatta before, now’s your chance! You can play or download for free via their website.
Finally, you may have seen that World Sailing recently launched a social media campaign called #SailingAllTogether, designed to unite the sailing community during this testing time for all of us.
With regattas worldwide postponed or cancelled, we have called upon sailors around the globe to send us their own sailing videos, taken before the outbreak of COVID-19 put several countries in lockdown.
So far we have received hundreds of submissions from over 70 nations, involving sailors from all ages across a variety of classes.
If you would like to get involved, please email your videos to email@example.com.
I hope that this monthly newsletter continues to provide you with insights into the direction of our organization and our sport. As always, should you have any questions, concerns or insights please feel free to get in contact with me via email, Facebook, or Twitter.