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World Sailing Presidential Newsletter: June 2020

by Kim Andersen, President World Sailing 2 Jul 00:22 PDT
World Sailing President, Kim Andersen © Tom Roberts / World Sailing

The past month has been focused on finalising and ensuring the financial future of World Sailing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud that through the hard work of the organisation and the Board appointed Taskforce, with support of the Board, we have succeeded in creating stability for World Sailing going forward. With actions in place and financial support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) we can continue to develop our sport and deliver our plans and strategies as we get back to our "new normal" coming out of the global lockdown.

Coming out of the lockdown in Denmark, I had the opportunity to spend a day racing with the Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL. Due to the worldwide lockdown leading to the cancellation of the planned SailGP events, the ROCKWOOL team used the time to train and stay sharp by using the GC32. As part of the program they have been implementing promotional activities, planning record attempts and initiating a youth engagement program. Having worked for ROCKWOOL years ago, I enjoyed the sailing experience, being able to get together with a good team and catching up on "old" stories from past times.

While some countries remain in lockdown and others are slowly coming out, the activities and priorities of World Sailing continue to move ahead. In particular, we have received support from our Member National Authorities to use electronic voting for our Annual Conference as a plan B option. In addition, we held a Council meeting on 24 June (available on YouTube here) to update members on general issues and the financial position of World Sailing going forward. This was followed by a Townhall for MNAs with other stakeholders as observers on 30 June.

To ensure that all of our members and the sailing community are up to date with the latest happenings at World Sailing, this month's newsletter includes the content from the Presidential report from the Council meeting.

Presidential Report

The aim of the Mid-Year Meeting and the Townhall meetings was to stay connected under this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and to share information from Committee and Commissions on their ongoing work.

Since the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the situation quickly evolved from a national challenge to a continental one, and now we are realising the global perspective of the pandemic. All sports federation worldwide are hit severely by the pandemic and the consequences of the lockdown. There continues to be restrictions for sports activities and events as a consequence of COVID-19.

Taking on the challenge arising from the crisis, the World Sailing Board of Directors, together with the Senior Management Team and organisation, have been taking a proactive approach. We have explored all the options available, such as public support, supplier relief, our own funds and introduced savings linked to the reduced activity level in the world of sport, etc.

We were working in crisis management mode, but we have now established some certainty around the financial and operational situation going forward.

Our good relationships with the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were used to explore the possibilities and different scenarios for handling the financial situation as well as contacts and talks with other International Federation colleagues, exchanging ideas and possibilities.

Sport in general is an important part of society with its ability to build relationships, bring camaraderie, expand social networks and in the case of sailing, be a sport for life.

The lockdown has been tough on all sailors worldwide in all disciplines and levels from youth to professional sailors. Right now, some countries are experiencing a controlled reopening of society and our sport. Due to travel restrictions, some families stay home and go sailing to the extent that boat charter (RBnB) markets are experiencing growth and availability has become a limiting factor.

Ahead of us we have another unprecedented challenge - organising and managing the "reopening". This new situation will need all our determination, creativity and flexibility. We will need to be flexible and make compromises, but extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.

Let's use our wisdom and learnings to make a safe opening of our sport worldwide and build an even stronger future for sailing.

Event Activities

A 'new' challenge ahead of us - the organisation of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This is a first in the history of the Olympic movement and one that involves a huge undertaking.

Currently, there is a major cost saving activity taking place to keep the budget and avoid the extra costs as a result of the postponement. For sure the Olympics in Tokyo will be great, but right now every stone is being turned regarding cost, so we must expect some facility and service restrictions compared to what we were originally planning for.

It's important to get started and rebuild the momentum of our great sport. We need to get our events restarted as well as all the activities at a national and club level. I would urge all our stakeholders to connect and share ideas and best practices for getting back to a "new normal" activity level.

We know that the complexity of planning for next year will be massive. Trying to make an events calendar work while having the Olympics in a "non-Olympic year" and the new planning calendar as part of the new events strategy increases the magnitude of complexity. Everybody is asking for clarity, but we are still learning about the COVID-19 pandemic, so we have to use the best of our knowledge at hand in preparing, but at the same time be flexible when new situations come to light caused by the pandemic.

Sailing is considered a low risk sport by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and with World Sailing's recommendations on how to manage events in this COVID-19 situation available, we are equipped to start up our sport as soon as it is allowed by the local governments.

Questions around the approval process of the Paris 2024 programme of Events by the IOC Programme Commission have been raised. The deadline for the application from World Sailing was February and we have received information that the time planned for the final approval of the Paris 2024 Events Programme are not affected by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, so by end 2020 the final approval will be received.

Financial Situation

First of all, I think it is important not to mix up the challenges that World Sailing is facing with the misinformation and politics being played by a group who are now using the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic situation to create uncertainties and doubts within our sport worldwide.

At the 2019 Annual Conference in Bermuda the board outlined the financial challenges for 2020 which was the "final year" of the quad. The financial challenges were caused by assumptions for the financial budget for the quad 2017-2020 not materialising. The Board together with the SMT had made the possible budget cuts and the last financial challenge we had to overcome was a missing cashflow for the first nine months of 2020 being covered against a loan in the World Sailing Trust.

The COVID-19 situation was unprecedented and meant that with the Tokyo Olympic Games being postponed, World Sailing like any other International Olympic Sports Federation, would be missing out on the Olympic funding to be received after the originally planned Olympics in 2020.

Due to our close and strong relationship with the IOC, we have received the financial support we asked for. This will enable us to continue to develop our great sport and to deliver a high-quality Olympic event in Tokyo next year. This makes everything we have done during these challenging times worthwhile. We are still working on cost optimisations, but we are in a good financial shape going forward. But again, uncertainties about assumption go hand in hand caused by this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

The target is to reinstate our reserve funds, having executed savings, postponement of investments and received an IOC loan. On this platform we should be able to get the funds intact in the near future.

New Chief Executive Officer

I am happy to welcome David Graham as World Sailing's new CEO, a 20-year veteran in the sports industry with exceptional experience within sailing. David will take the helm of our organisation starting on 13 July.

David Graham's extensive and impressive professional career within the sailing community worldwide and equally his sailing career as an active sailor growing up sailing dinghies all the way through to major big boat series, means his vast experience will benefit World Sailing.

With David's background we will have a strong CEO at the helm to help restructure and provide strong direction for the operations of our organisation. Given the present situation and the changes in the future led by the unprecedented situation, time is of the essence and we look forward to David joining World Sailing.

We are looking forward together with David, based on the strategies in place and actions agreed in Council, to set the direction and priorities.

World Sailing Strategy 2018-2022 / World Sailing Para Sailing Strategy 2020-2023 / Sustainability Agenda 2030.

2020 General Assembly

The written Resolution for the 2020 General Assembly that allows electronic voting at the meeting has been approved. Therefore, in case the COVID-19 pandemic does not make it possible to host the Annual Conference as planned in Abu Dhabi later this year, we now have the flexibility to vote electronically as part of a plan B scenario. In order to ensure that we are ready to implement this possible scenario should it be necessary, an Annual Conference plan will be prepared outlining the way in which Committee meetings, Council meeting, the AGM and the Election could be run and connecting the communication for our governing structure with everything being virtual.

European Commission closes enquiry in respect of World Sailing

The European Commission has confirmed to World Sailing that it has closed the enquiry it had opened on the organization following a complaint in 2018 regarding the supply of boats and equipment for the Olympic Games.

While the Commission did not open a formal investigation, World Sailing fully cooperated with the Commission's requests for information and clarification, including providing insights into the development and implementation of the Olympic Equipment Policy.

World Sailing is pleased with the outcome and will continue to implement the Olympic Equipment Policy in its work with Olympic Class Associations.

ASOIF Governance review feedback: Scoring indicator 2016 - 2020

The Association of Olympic International Sports Federations (ASOIF) has, from the period 2016 to 2020, carried out three audits for all the summer Olympic International Federations. In summary the report received by World Sailing has the following highlights:

  • World Sailing's score has increased from 113 (in 2016) to 158 (in early 2020)
  • Transparency, integrity and control have been identified as the biggest area of improvement
  • WS is the 7th ranked international federation, placing us securely in the top 10 Olympic IFs
  • WS has kept its position as the top IF of Group A2 (Group A2 consists of Sailing, Basketball, Fencing, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Wrestling, Athletics and Taekwondo)
  • A number of World Sailing procedures and practices have again been published by ASOIF as best practice examples

Overall, this is a very good outcome, in fact in the last four years we have shown a constant improvement. See World Sailing's scores here. But in order to ensure that we will retain our position in the next audit (due in 1-2 years' time) World Sailing must address the areas where we scored the lowest this includes reviewing our structure, procedures or practices.

Activities aimed at increasing participation during lockdown

Sustainability Education Programme launched

Throughout this period, we, in partnership with the World Sailing Trust and 11th Hour Racing, have released a Sustainability Education Programme. Developed with The Ocean Race, these assets are available online for children aged 6-8, 8-10 and 10-12 to use free of charge to learn about wider environmental issues that can affect the sport as well as those areas where the sport can make a positive impact.

The assets are available in seven languages already and are online here.

eSailing on the rise

Throughout the COIVD-19 pandemic, sailors worldwide have been able to get their fix by participating in the eSailing World Championship on Virtual Regatta Inshore. Hundreds of thousands of eSailors have taken to platform to enjoy the sport from the confines of their home.

Training and Development Webinars

A series of Webinars have been held by the Training and Development team during the COVID-19 pandemic to help our MNAs grow the sport. MNAs from around Asia, the Caribbean and Central America and Oceania have all participated. The series is titled, "Growing Sailing" and focuses on creating access to the sport, retaining sailors, focusing on the various pathways that are within the sailing industry with a fourth on Para sailing and how more people with varied levels of disabilities can get onto the water sailing.

#SailingAllTogether

Our digital media campaign #SailingAllTogether has performed tremendously well with hundreds of sailors submitting their own sailing videos from their archives for World Sailing to share. We have amassed millions of views across of our channels and the content provided our fans with an insight into other areas of the our great sport.

Communication

In order to step up the levels of information being distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic I have conducted 12 Townhall meeting sessions with MNA Presidents, Council Members, Committee & Commission Chairs and the Olympic Class Associations. This is in addition to one Council meeting and a series of conference calls with Committees to keep World Sailing's members informed. I can confirm that the "operation" of getting information out to all of our members was a huge success - and we managed keep you all informed with the facts during this unprecedent crisis.

I will be continuing the Townhall meetings in the coming weeks and months with a focus on getting us out of the crisis. The forums might be changed slightly in order to create and facilitate a dialogue between neighboring countries so that we can use all efforts to get sailing restarted and that we do this in a safe manner around the world while continuing to develop of our sport according the strategies already in place.

The monthly Presidential Newsletter has changed content due to the COVID-19 pandemic - from covering global sailing activities to information on COVID-19 crisis management. I will continue the monthly updates with a major part being information and feedback from Townhall meetings, enabling the wider sailing community to gain a deeper insight into World Sailing.

I would like to thank all of our Member National Authorities, the Medical Commission and organisers working closely and swiftly with the World Sailing team to adapt, change and communicate as fast as possible.

I have to applaud the Committees and Commissions for their commitment of keeping the momentum up under these difficult conditions. From reading reports and speaking to members, the ongoing work is on track.

Thanks also goes to the staff, SMT team and Board colleagues who are doing an excellent job at organising and getting World Sailing through this pandemic.

To sailors worldwide, stay safe and let's focus on "opening" our great sport and use it as part of our motivation of getting back to "the new normal society".

Please feel free to reach out to me either via , www.facebook.com/KimAndersenSailing, or twitter.com/KimAndersen_. As always, I am happy to hear from you.

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