Will Sailing makes its statement?
Published on March 1st, 2022
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
In a pre-dawn TV address on February 24, Russian President Putin president declared his country could not feel “safe, develop and exist” because of what he claimed was a constant threat from modern Ukraine.
So he attacked this neighbor nation, and it has united the world against him.
As bars and restaurants remove Russian vodka from their shelves, the sporting world is leaning in to make its statement.
Among the first to take a stand was the Fédération Internationale de Football Association when they kicked Russia out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues,” said Polish and Bayern Munich soccer star Robert Lewandowski. “Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”
The International Volleyball Federation will no longer allow Russia to host the men’s 2022 world championships while the International Skating Union has banned Russia from competing in international ice skating events.
World Taekwondo has stripped Putin of his honorary taekwondo black belt, citing its motto of “Peace is more precious than triumph.”
As for World Sailing, they got lucky, issuing a statement how there are no World Sailing organized regattas planned to be held in Russia or Belarus in 2022. I say lucky as World Sailing can be a toothless organization when exerting power. They just don’t have the manpower and war chest, or possibly authority, to pursue difficult challenges.
So if statements are to be made, it will be on events and class organizations to do so.
Blocking Melges 20, RC44, and TP52 teams from competition may not change the course of history, but as Lewandowski said, “we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”
More significant would be excluding high profile race boats owned by Russian oligarchs – Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios or the mystery ownership of the VPLP/Verdier 100 Comanche.
Russian restaurants are being boycotted. How much harmony can there be at events with Russian teams in attendance? US Sailing has moved to suspend the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes, teams, and Race Officials at US Sailing events.
While a great stance, this will likely impact nobody. What about suspending participation in all U.S. events? Real action would be to ban the Russian teams from the Melges 20 Miami Winter Series on March 4-6 in Miami, FL.
“Taking this action will have no real impact on the war in the Ukraine,” admitted said Matt Gallagher, an active US volunteer. “However, our sport owes it to our fellow competitors from Ukraine who, instead of being able to enjoy the sport we love, are either fleeing, fighting, sheltering, or dying to defend their homes.”
As Brigham Young once said, “True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right.”
UPDATE: World Sailing has revised its position, though as predicted, they are putting it upon their members to do the work.