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Youth Worlds - Malaysia cops a letter after excluding World Champions

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com on 14 Jan 2016
Yoav Omer is sprayed with champagne - RS:X Class Youth World Championships, Gdynia, Poland RS:X class.com http://www.rsxclass.com
World Sailing will take no substantive action against parties involved in the exclusion of two world champions from the World Youth Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia.

Despite having identified that actions of the Malaysian authorities, in excluding competitors from Israel, broke three Articles of its Constitution or Regulations the Malaysian's penalty will be simply the receipt of a letter from the controlling body of the sport of sailing.

The Israel Sailing Association will also receive a letter from World Sailing, presumably for not alerting the world body before withdrawing from the prestigious Youth World Championship on Christmas Eve.

The report seems to be the absolute minimum World Sailing could get away with, and will be viewed by many as a whitewash of the Malaysian actions.

The reality of the situation is that the World Sailing Constitution would appear to be so flawed that the Executive Committee does not seem to have the power of suspension or any other penalty for a breach of its Constitution or Regulations for discrimination.

The only issue that the Executive Committee can suspend membership is for non-payment of subscriptions.

Suspension of the Malaysian Sailing Association can only come at the hand of the World Sailing Council, by a two-thirds majority at its next meeting scheduled for November 2016. But such a majority would be unlikely to be achieved if Asian and Muslim countries voted as a bloc.

A suspension almost 12 months after the incident would be seen as shutting the stable door after the horse had long since bolted.


In the report which was delayed for a day to run it past the eyes of the IOC and ASOIF (Assoc. Summer Olympics Federations) World Sailing produces its own timeline that is less comprehensive than that previously published in Sail-World. There are a couple of new items relating to the prodding of the Israel Sailing Association by the then International Sailing Federation (ISAF) over the ISA regatta entry and getting the visa application underway.

But the report ignores the fact that ISAF were alerted to the issue in 2011, had a site visit and report in 2012. The specific conclusions of that report are not advised in the report of ISAF Annual Conference Minutes.

The report seems to point to the Israel Sailing Association being partially responsible for their own demise. (Israel Sailing Association is the name under which they are listed on ISAF's website MNA list and the title also used by the ISA themselves, ISAF persist in using the former name of Israel Yachting Assoc.)

But that claim ignores the situation where MNA's were required to indicate the events and number of competitors they were intending to enter, and could then provide the names and details closer to the time of the regatta, after selection trials, and two and a half months is not that sufficiently delayed to be an issue. According to the ISA they did attempt to invoke the two-phase entry process, but the Malaysians wanted only the individuals details only. (That presumably is to trigger the visa application process - which is for individuals not groups. But both bureaucratic approaches are understandable. )


World Sailing's insinuations of a 'late' entry from the Israelis as being part of the issue look less credible when Yachting New Zealand also announced their team on October 15, the same date as the Israelis applied and had no visa issues.

There is no mention of the involvement of ISAF staffers or ISAF Committee members involved in the four-year saga.

In the boat tampering investigation held at the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco, the sailors involved were named, and it is hard to understand why the same practice was not followed in this case in which the ISAF itself was a co-organiser along with the Malaysian Sailing Association.

Two of those involved in the latest incident in Malaysia were Chris Atkins who was ISAF's Events Committee Chairman in 2011 when Langkawi was approved as the venue by Atkin's committee. He then moved into a position as ISAF Vice-President in 2012 (and became a member of the Executive Committee) and was then the ISAF representative at the World Youth Championship.

Sail-World understands that Atkins also interviewed, at least, one of the parties in compiling the Interim Report.

Antonio Gonzales de la Madrid was the ISAF staffer who conducted the site report in 2012 in his role as Sailing World Cup Manager when the issue of eligible countries not being able to compete was noted by the ISAF Council in their November 2011 meeting.

De la Madrid was the technical delegate for the 2015 Youth Worlds and again it is difficult to understand how the Israeli visa situation had not been 'red flagged' by the ISAF and was not being carefully monitored by the world body, who claimed they were surprised by the Israeli withdrawal just three days before the start of the World Championship.

The issue of people involved and their roles is significant as in this and other contexts there is too much cross-pollination between committees and functions with a lack of independence of thought as issues are hustled through the bureaucratic process. As evidenced by this and other similar incidents some matters do not receive the attention they deserve and the potential for systemic failure is high.


While the report mentions instances of correspondence and communication between the Israelis and Malaysians, the CEO of the ISA told Sail-World that there had been several instances of emails being sent from the ISA to the MSA and not receiving a response.

It is also hard to believe that the ISAF was not copied on some or all of the correspondence and that the letter sent by MAS to ISA on December 15, 2015, setting out an informal offer on the issuance of visas, was not copied or passed through the world body, and that letter should have sounded alarm bells in the ISAF HQ in Southampton.

Returning to the 2013 America's Cup World Series hearings and appeal, the International Sailing Federation was criticized by the Court for Arbitration for Sport for having an investigation and determination process run by a single body. It would appear that the world body has transgressed again, and many are calling for an independent investigation into the situation.

The report makes no mention of other instances in the past 14 months where Israeli sailors have been excluded from two other World Championships or have been forced to conceal their nationality along with other conditions.

Again it is hard to see how the ISAF could claim to be unaware of this situation and sailor exclusions given the comprehensive reporting required from such events.

The point being that the 2015 Youth Worlds were the third regatta in the chain, and it is difficult to understand how the world body did not have its antennae up after the first incident, let the second slide through and then claimed to have had to rely on media reports to find the Israelis had pulled the pin in the third instance.

No mention of the multiple hats wearing by various individuals in the ISAF/World Sailing organisational structures which means that too few people have too much work and too much influence and don’t challenge their own thinking.

Plus you get a cross-flow of “understanding/confusion” from one committee to another. If something slips between the crack in one area, it will probably do the same in others.

Perhaps the strongest safeguard against a re-occurrence lies not with the World Sailing bureaucracy, but the fact that the sailing and world news media have been alerted to the situation and reoccurrences will receive the undivided attention of the Fourth Estate.


The full report issued by World Sailing at 5.00pm UK time on Tuesday January 13, 2016 reads:

World Sailing deeply regret that two sailors from the Israel Yachting Association (IYA) were unable to compete at the 2015 Youth World Championships due to the conditions imposed by the Malaysian authorities, in order for them to be allowed permission to enter the country and compete at the regatta.

A thorough investigation of this matter has been undertaken on behalf of the Executive Committee of World Sailing with the full co-operation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The findings were reviewed by an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee in London on the 8 January 2016.

The key facts are set-out below and as a consequence of the investigation World Sailing re-affirms and defines more explicitly, the requirements of its 'no discrimination' regulations on all regatta organizers.

In summary, going forward, in the event of a breach of the 'no discrimination' regulations at a regatta, World Sailing shall at its discretion impose sanctions on the Member National Authority (MNA) concerned. These may include:

• non-selection as a future venue;
• denial of appointment of World Sailing race officials to future regattas in the country, and / or
• cancellation of membership of World Sailing.


Summary of the Facts surrounding the Incident at the 2015 Youth World Sailing Championships

November 2011 - ISAF Awards Youth Worlds to the Malaysian Sailing Association
25 March 2015 - Registration to the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Malaysia opens
25 March 2015 - ISAF puts the Israel Yachting Association (IYA) in touch with the Malaysian Sailing Association to start the visa process.
22 June 2015 - ISAF continued to seek information required for the visa process
6 August 2015 - (20 weeks before the event) MSA continues to request IYA for submission of details of Israeli competitors
15 October 2015 - (10.5 weeks before the event) Israel Yachting Association (IYA) supplies the names of 2 sailors and 1 coach with the required information
16 December 2015 - (2 weeks before the event) MSA writes to IYA with conditions for entry which included:
- Participation limited to the formal part of the event;
- Participation under the banner and flag of ISAF;
- No display of ISR flags or logos or colours, or playing of ISR anthem
- Restrictions on travel and purchases
23 December 2015 - IYA informs the media that they will not permit its sailors to take part
24 December 2015 - IYA informs World Sailing that they will not permit its sailors to take part
27 December 2015 - Official Arrival Day

The conditions required by the Malaysian authorities breached Article 7 of the World Sailing constitution. The late starting of the process to enable Israeli sailors to participate, delays and poor communication by all parties during that process, and the late notification of the conditions, contributed to the outcome and made it impossible for World Sailing and IOC to resolve the incident before the championships.

Following the investigation, World Sailing will be writing to both the Malaysian Sailing Association and the Israel Yachting Association in relation to this matter.


World Sailing policy on discrimination

There is no place for discrimination of any kind in the worldwide sport of sailing and an obligation of membership of World Sailing is to act without discrimination. This applies equally to National Authorities, Regional Associations, and Classes. World Sailing will impose sanctions on any member who breaches his obligations in this area.

The objects and aims of World Sailing include: 'to promote the sport of sailing in all its branches regardless of race, religion, gender, physical ability or political affiliation.'

Members' obligations (Article 6) include: 'to promote the objects of the Federation [and] to refrain, and to use reasonable endeavours to persuade others within their area of jurisdiction to refrain, from actions that are inconsistent with the objects.'

Article 7 states it shall be the obligation of a Member 'to ensure that there shall be no discrimination on the grounds of race, religion or political affiliation against any competitor representing an Member National Authority'.

Regulation 1.13(a) requires Member National Authorities to: 'remain autonomous and resist any political, religious or financial pressure that may infringe on their obligations.'

World Sailing strives to grow the sport worldwide, encouraging and supporting regattas in all countries and cultures. While doing this, World Sailing will enforce its regulations and never act in a way that could be seen to condone discrimination.

In relation to this, the International Olympic Committee recently stated, following its summit on 17 October 2015, that 'the Summit agreed that for all competitions taking place under the auspices of an International Federation or National Olympic Committee or their continental or regional associations, it has to be ensured that all athletes from all their members can enter a country to compete and are treated equally. It was agreed that should this rule not be respected, the event in question cannot serve as a qualification event for the Olympic Games or any other championship.' World Sailing confirms it will apply this guidance strictly to all future sailing regattas.

World Sailing Conclusions and Decisions

World Sailing re-affirms, and defines more explicitly, the requirements of its 'no discrimination' regulations on regatta organizers.

The purpose of the regulations is to ensure that sailors from all MNAs are able to participate fully and equally in sailing competitions they are eligible to enter and World Sailing provides the following clarifications:

• All sailors at all sailing events shall be entitled to race with their country code letters on their sails. A requirement for sailors to enter any sailing event under 'World Sailing' or other disguising title breaches World Sailing regulations.

• If country flags are to be displayed, anthems played, or national team clothing worn, this shall apply equally to all sailors from all MNAs.

• All World Sailing championships involve an element of country representation, and at all these regattas, flags shall be displayed and winners' anthems played. They shall be displayed and played equally for all competitors. Organizing Authorities who are not able to meet this requirement should not bid, and will not be selected, to host future World Sailing championships.

• The principle also applies to officials appointed by World Sailing to regattas. An Organizing Authority or host country MNA shall not seek to restrict such appointments on the grounds of race or any other discrimination.

• With regard to security, World Sailing believes that security is the responsibility of the host country; and there shall be no obligation to accept other nations' security personnel. Security considerations may mean sailors from different countries are treated differently ashore.


When selecting future venues, World Sailing shall require:

• Explicit acceptance at the bid stage and in the contract of sailing's 'no discrimination' requirement as it applies to that regatta.
• Any necessary processes to be initiated in good time.
• Impose sanctions on the Member National Authority in the event that the requirement is not met.

Known areas of difficulty shall be taken into account when evaluating venues. The chosen venue shall identify any areas of risk, and agree with World Sailing the schedule for progressing them. This schedule needs to recognize that some elements are outside the host venue or MNA's control, and shall be designed to ensure that any identification of problems or discussion of conditions is early enough to enable a resolution to be agreed in good time.

Countries who do not have diplomatic relations with the country of a chosen venue, and officials who know they may have difficulty over entry into a country, shall accept the need to highlight these challenges well in advance. Such countries shall be prepared to select sailors and plan participation early enough for arrangements to be made.

Changing venue after selection is never desirable. In future, World Sailing staff will explicitly report on the implementation of its 'no discrimination' requirement at a World Sailing regatta to the committee responsible so that any emerging difficulties can promptly be escalated to the Council of World Sailing.

In the event of a breach at a regatta, World Sailing shall at its discretion impose sanctions on the MNA concerned. These may include non-selection as a future venue, denial of appointment of World Sailing race officials to future regattas in the country and/or cancellation of membership of World Sailing.

World Sailing will communicate with already-selected venues for forthcoming World Sailing Championships to ensure these championships will permit full and equal participation by all. These include Oman 2016, Israel 2017 and Corpus Christi 2018.

World Sailing and its MNAs have a real opportunity with the 2016 Youth World Sailing Championships in Oman to show youth sailors representing all World Sailing member nations competing against each other fully and equally.

World Sailing shall require the implementation of sailing's 'no discrimination' regulation across local, regional and international sailing regattas organized by its members.

World Sailing shall publicize the requirements, including clarifications, and encourage all organizations to adhere to these requirements. Advice shall be sought on whether any additions should be made to the Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-2020.

In all the above, World Sailing will continue to liaise with IOC for advice on the appropriateness of its regulations, and guidance on their most effective international implementation.

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