Paris 2024: Pressure is on World Sailing

Published on April 16th, 2021

When the International Olympic Committee issued its Olympic Agenda 2020 document in December 2014, it set a course of change for all Olympic sports. With the IOC objectives of gender equality, mixed events, and event uniqueness, it would require a revamped sailing program after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

With much effort to fulfill the IOC requirements while seeking to showcase the massively diverse sport of sailing, the program for the Paris 2024 Olympics was put forth at the 2018 World Sailing Annual Conference by the World Sailing Council, a committee of roughly 40 members that represent international sailing regions along with various World Sailing class and committee organizations.

But approval of the program sits with the IOC, and while this occurred for nine of the ten events in December 2020, the IOC wanted to further review the new Mixed Offshore event to properly assess key considerations. Since then, World Sailing, the IOC, and Paris 2024 Organizing Committee had worked in close collaboration to ensure all queries were answered in detail.

However, World Sailing has more recently been informed by the IOC that challenges for the Mixed Offshore event still exist in the areas of field of play security, scope and complexity, broadcast cost and complexity, and World Sailing not having the opportunity to deliver an Offshore World Championship, a result of it being canceled due to the pandemic.

While the IOC continues their assessment of the Mixed Offshore event to address these points, they have requested that World Sailing propose alternative event(s) for sailing’s 10th medal at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“This is not an official decision from the IOC, but rather a direction of travel and assistance to help World Sailing secure our 10th medal at Paris 2024, should the Offshore event not be endorsed by the IOC Executive Board in early June,” explains World Sailing CEO David Graham.

“This is very disappointing news and we are aware this upset will be widespread across our community if the decision doesn’t go our way. The Mixed Offshore Event was democratically selected by our members and remains our first-choice event for Paris 2024; we have made this clear to the IOC and will continue to do so. However, the contents of the letter from the IOC are consistent with decisions they have made in other sports.

“Now is the time for the World Sailing community to unite and work collaboratively. World Sailing is in an unprecedented position. We have clear guidelines from the IOC, and a hard deadline, within which we must agree upon proposed alternatives.”

The process for proposing alternative event(s) is not simple. In accordance with Article 55 of the World Sailing Constitution, a Council meeting will be called for April 23 to review a Board Submission to temporarily amend the World Sailing regulations to permit the decision regarding alternatives to be made.

The Board Submission will outline the process for proposing an alternative Event to the IOC and will allow decisions to be made at the 2021 Mid-Year Meeting, if approved by Council members.

World Sailing’s Mid-Year Meeting will be held virtually on May 10-14, 2021. The normal Submissions process has concluded but a late submission process for proposing alternative events will begin on April 17 and conclude on April 23. Member Nations (MNAs), Class Associations, Committee Chairs, and the Board are invited to put forward submissions.

Any late submission must be in the respect of the replacement event only (and not any associated Regulatory changes) and the alternative event proposal must adhere to criteria framework provided by the IOC which is outlined below:

• Align with Olympic Agenda 2020+5, including relevance to the youth, innovation, universality and participation of the best athletes
• Keep full gender equality on both number of events and athlete quotas (e.g. alternative mixed-gender events or split of currently approved mixed events into men’s and women’s events)
• Prioritize universality and maximize the accessibility of the sport
• Should have been previously tested at the respective World Championships organized by World Sailing
• Should not cause an increase of the overall cost and complexity for the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee, National Olympic Committees and/or National Federations, specifically in the direct comparison with the sailing program, as a whole, in Tokyo 2020
• Use of existing venues/Fields of Play

Late Submissions will be published on the World Sailing website on April 30, 2021.

At the 2021 Mid-Year Meeting, the Constitution, Events, and Equipment Committee will meet on May 10-11, 2021. They will discuss the submissions ahead of making their recommendations to Council.

World Sailing’s Council will meet on May 14 across two sessions and will discuss and vote on the submissions. This will ensure the process concludes ahead of the IOC deadline for new proposals, which is May 26, 2021.

The possibility of sailing losing this 10th medal does exist, as there has been a trend by the IOC to slim down its quadrennial competition, but World Sailing contends the focus of alternative event proposals will be for them to unquestionably meet IOC requirements.

A final decision from the IOC on the Paris 2024 sailing program may occur at their Executive Board Meeting on June 8-10, 2021.

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