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Sailing must make a stand

by Mark Jardine 28 Feb 03:12 PST
Support Ukraine © with permission

They say sport and politics should not mix, but the way the landscape has changed over the past week means we simply cannot ignore the horrific situation in Ukraine.

The question is, how should sailing respond? We are all united in supporting the Ukrainian people in their hour of need, but how can we assist them best? Personally, we can make donations to organisations like Unicef and the Red Cross, but what else can we do? What else can sailing do?

The reality is, many of the world's largest superyachts are Russian owned, as were the first two monohulls to finish the RORC Caribbean 600 last week: Skorpios and Comanche. Should World Sailing and organisations such as the RORC ban Russian-owned boats from competing? Other sports are making a stand, such as Formula One cancelling the Russian Grand Prix, but would banning Russians from sailing make a difference?

This war is Putin's war. As we've seen, many Russians are against the invasion of Ukraine and, despite the near certainty of being arrested, they have protested in large numbers. The aggressor is Putin, not the Russian people, which is what makes the decision-makers choices so difficult.

But the message needs to be sent strongly and clearly across the board that Russia invading Ukraine is so far beyond what is acceptable that sailing needs to make a stand. Sailing's governing bodies and event organisers need to collectively work together to present a united front and decide what sanctions can be taken, in however small a way, to deter Putin from the path he has taken. I certainly don't envy their role, but hope that they have the resolve to do what needs to be done.

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