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Tokyo2010 - Three Olympic classes want change to Qualification wrought

by Richard Gladwell, on 20 Oct 2016
Annalise Murphy (IRL) celebrates after her surprise Silver Medal win in the Laser Radial Medal Race - Summer Olympics 2016 Richard Gladwell
Three Olympic classes, the Nacra 17 and 49er/FX have made a joint submission to the World Sailing Annual Conference wanting Member National Authorities to declare use within two weeks of earning an Olympic Qualification place.

If accepted the change will bring Sailing into line with the practice used by Rowing requiring its MNAs to confirm that they will be taking up an Olympic Qualification place within two weeks of the Qualification Regatta.

Failure to confirm acceptance of the place within two weeks of the regatta end would mean that the place will pass onto the next highest qualifier at the regatta.

The submission follows the 'Medal Capable' practice adopted by four countries Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada at the 2016 Olympics. While the first three had good Olympics placing in the top five on the Sailing medal table, Canada had one of their worst Olympics ever, despite qualifying in all events and electing not to take 40% of those places when entries closed in June 2016.

New Zealand turned down three of their ten places and Australia two.

Both had cases taken respectively to the Sports Disputes Tribunal and Court of Arbitration for Sport. Two medalists in the Rio Sailing Olympics would not have been selected for the regatta had their MNA been operating a 'Medal Capable' selection policy.

However, Medal Capability is not the issue, as was first raised in earlier this year.

The proposal from the two Associations covering three classes says they want to 'amend the procedure of Olympic berth acceptance in the Olympic qualification document for 2020 (not yet written) so that each MNA accepts or rejects their Olympic berth within two weeks of the berth being won. Any rejections of a berth would offer that berth to the next MNA in line in the respective regatta with a further two-week window to accept.'

The change would not affect those who wish to run a 'medal capable' selection - but it does require them, to be honest with their intentions. Under the change they would just need to have the courage of their convictions for those they think are not 'medal capable' and decline the place - and then take their chances from the second or maybe the third round of qualification.

Currently, 'as per the 2016 Olympic qualification document, MNAs have until the end of the Olympic qualifying cycle to accept or reject the Olympic berths they have won', says the Proposal. 'The current position creates significant uncertainty until very late in the cycle. MNAs and Athletes next in line are left for Olympic berths are left scrambling to arrange logistics etc. too near in time to the Olympic regatta.'

The classes say that there is too much uncertainty with the unwanted Olympic places being released just three months before the start of the Olympic regatta - too late to be of any real use to another serious competitor.

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