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World Sailing's credibility questioned by Israel Sailing chief

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com on 21 Jan 2016
2015 World U-19 RS:X Champion Yoav Omer competing in the - RS:X Class Youth World Championships, Gdynia, Poland in July 2015 RS:X class.com http://www.rsxclass.com
The Chairman of the Israel Sailing Association has disputed claims from World Sailing that they were unaware of the pending withdrawal of the ISA's Youth Team at the 2015 Youth Worlds in Malaysia.

World Sailing, formerly the International Sailing Federation, claimed they did not know of the Israeli intention to withdraw until after it was reported in the media.

The Chairman of the ISA Gili Amir is reported in The Jerusalem Post as disputing the claim made in the report and other comments by the world sailing controlling body.

In the report, released after and emergency meeting of the World Sailing Executive Committee, the sport’s governing body said that it “deeply regrets” that Israel’s representatives were unable to compete “due to the conditions imposed by the Malaysian authorities,” but also added that the ISA’s conduct contributed to the unfortunate outcome.

“That is complete nonsense. We did exactly what we were supposed to,” insisted Amir. “They received our letter 24 hours before we sent it to the media. They are telling tales. They had to somehow appease the Malaysians so they wrote that nonsense. It is entirely inaccurate. We went exactly by the book and they are looking for excuses after not meeting their obligations.”


Jerusalem Post reporter Allon Sinai has published two stories based on interviews with the head of Israel Sailing Association.

On December 24, the ISA announced that it would not be competing in the World Youth Championships co-organised by the ISAF and the Malaysian Sailing Association. Two current youth world champions were prevented by the Malaysians from competing after entry immigration visas were not issued, in an action said by the Malaysia Minister of Youth and Sport for political reasons.

Draconian conditions were offered in a letter of December 15, by the MAS which could have enabled the Israeli sailors into Malaysia, but the entry visas were never issued, conditional or otherwise. The subsequent report from World Sailing identified three breaches of its Constitution and Regulations by the Malaysian Sailing Association, but fell short of recommending any punitive action.

Minutes from the ISAF Annual Conferences showed that the world body was aware of the possibility that some countries could be excluded from the Youth Worlds at the time they were awarded in November 2011, and have not offered any credible explanation as to how the serious omission could have occurred and the world sailing body had been caught napping as claimed.

The then Chair of the ISAF Events Committee which recommended approval of the prestigious regatta to Malaysia, noting the looming visa issue, is now a Vice President of the world body, was the ISAF representative at the regatta and participated in the drafting of the interim report. Similarly an ISAF staffer, the then Sailing World Cup Manager was sent on a site visit to Malaysia in March 2012 and he was also the ISAF Youth Worlds Technical Delegate to the event.


It is that lack of action which has left Israel Sailing Association chairman Gili Amir saying he has little faith in World Sailing, with recent experiences having left him disillusioned regarding the true intentions of the sport’s governing body.

It transpired after the December incident that similar situations had existed at two other world championships for Olympic classes held in Oman and United Arab Emirates, also countries with no diplomatic relationships with Israel.

Allon Sinai reports that ISA has sent a letter to World Sailing President Carlo Croce asking that he guarantees that Israel’s sailors will be able to take part in all future events.

The letter echoes concerns that ISA sailors will be unable to compete at the 2016 Youth World Championships to be held in Oman in December and the World Cup final to take place in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in October.

In the World Sailing Report the world body said it would impose sanctions in the future event of a breach of its new the “no discrimination” regulations at a regatta.

Possible sanctions included: 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.

However, Allon Sinai reports that Amir doesn’t believe World Sailing actually plans to follow through with its decisions.

“We are very concerned that their decisions have no teeth,” Amir told The Jerusalem Post. “If we don’t remain on guard, we will find ourselves in the same situation ahead of the championships in Oman as we did in Malaysia.

“There are a lot of politics involved, and everyone just wants to get away with the minimum required. The president is facing an election in November and this is all politics. He wants everyone to support him. No one knows what will happen the day after the president is chosen and we are concerned.


“If there isn’t a proper warning period to make sure host countries act according to the Olympic Charter and that if they don’t they will lose the competition or be barred from taking part in the Olympics or sanctions of that sort which can change their stance, there is no point to this entire episode.”

“We are disappointed that Malaysia hasn’t been punished,” said Amir.

“We are also skeptical whether World Sailing plans to enforce its own decisions.

We are afraid that this is all politics and we only trust ourselves.”

'The ISA is demanding to receive a guarantee that Israel's athletes will compete as equals according to the Olympic Charter, including with all accepted national symbols,' said ISA chairman Gili Amir. 'We are also demanding that a competition will be moved should visas not be provided and should athletes be unable to compete with national symbols.' World Sailing wrote in its statement last week that 'all World Sailing championships involve an element of country representation, and at all these regattas, flags shall be displayed and winners' anthems played.

Money claimed to be driving decisions
The cynical media dogma of 'if you want to know the truth follow the money' is shared by ISA Chairman Amir who is reported as having the belief that money is ultimately the source of the problem.

“Organizing an international sailing competition is an expensive business and World Sailing chooses countries in which it makes money,” explained Amir in the Jerusalem Post. “Places like Oman, Malaysia or Abu Dhabi pay World Sailing a lot of money to host events. They don’t even have any sailors so what incentive do they have other than a political one.

“This is a growing trend in recent years, with more rich Muslim countries bidding for competitions. We are waging a battle for all of Israeli sport and this shouldn’t be the case because this isn’t our private war. Israel has a Foreign Ministry, Sports Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office and I see this as their responsibility. They don’t give us the support we need. We shouldn’t even need to deal with this.”

Amir feels diplomatic pressure can bring about the required results says the interview.


“It isn’t enough just to shout and scream. You need to work behind the scenes and ensure that we are treated like any other country,” he said. “That is something which needs to be done on the day that a host country is selected. We need to enforce conditions that will mean they have to treat Israel like any other country and that we will be able to appear with our clothing and symbols and not have to enter the country under the radar and leave our phones and computers at home. We shouldn’t agree to continue this way.”

With potentially problematic events coming up later this year in Abu Dhabi and Oman, Amir insists he has learned his lesson.

“If we don’t have visas six months in advance and we don’t see that actions are being taken to ensure our participation then we will make a fuss again,” he said. 'They will not be able to remain indifferent.”

Read both stories in full by clicking here

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