The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has taken the surprise decision to drop windsurfing from the Olympic programme for Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Games, with kiteboarding being named in its place.
The weekend’s decision came after an evaluation group was appointed in November to examine kiteboarding formats with the board events for Rio 2016 defined as ‘windsurfing and/or kiteboarding’. The Evaluation Group recommended that kiteboarding be included in the ISAF event family including the Sailing World Cup and the Sailing World Championships, but the ISAF Council went one step further and selected kiteboarding for the Rio 2016 Olympic sailing competition as well.
The decision has been met with criticism from the windsurfing community, with federations promising to start a campaign to pressurise the ISAF into re-instating the sport. “Obviously we’ve got quite a few young sailors in particular who have been campaigning and building a campaign particularly with 2016 in mind and I guess we’ve been investing via national windsurfing programmes,” Peter Conde, Yachting Australia’s high performance director, told Reuters. “Clearly those sailors are pretty devastated. At least at first (glance) it looks like their dreams have been dashed by this decision. I guess it remains to be seen as to whether many of those athletes might want to take a fresh look and embrace kiteboarding as a new discipline. I guess we’d be encouraging them to look at it.”
British sailing performance director, Luke Derbyshire, added: “The decision to replace windsurfing with kiteboarding will of course be a huge blow to the windsurfing community, and we’re disappointed for all those who are working at the coal face of the RYA’s windsurfing programmes to deliver activity and British success on the world stage who will be affected most by this decision. Kiteboarding made a solid case for its Olympic inclusion at the March trials and although a surprise that ISAF has voted it into the Olympic programme at this stage, it appears that the Council of ISAF wished to seize the opportunity, rather than wait until 2020.”
Following the weekend’s announcement, ISAF president Göran Petersson said: “Kiteboarding has proven to us that it is ready to be included into the list of prestigious ISAF Events and it is a fantastic addition to the sailing programme for the 2016 Olympic Games.”
Continue reading here:
ISAF hands kiteboarding Olympic chance