Los Angeles or bust

The latest piece of email marketing from the International Olympic Association was a trip into mediocrity, almost irrelevant to the Games themselves, touting sports and individuals unlikely to ever bother the five ring circus, but it revealed starkly the dedicated path that this weird semi-state body is on.

Presented to the world were two films – one following a pretty average female skateboarder on the streets of New York and another following an even more average skim-boarder. The skim dude, whilst looking cool, was attempting with his friend to find architectural water-displays around his city of the correct depth in order to execute a ‘skim’ across the film before crashing and falling as the edge nipped the board and physics took over.

Neither were any good but that didn’t matter – this was the Olympics capturing youthful zeitgeist. It was wearying to watch. Patronising in the extreme. It wasn’t Citius, Altius Fortius.

Urban Skim Boarding?

The Olympics however, is congratulating itself on the introduction of youth sports into the heavily delayed Tokyo Games and is drunk on a mythical, be-tattooed urban culture. Boxes were ticked, engagement scores went through the roof, youth ruled and sports that were previously the domain of the disaffected went mainstream.

The Olympic platform is formulaic but beautifully televisual and sports now have to capture far more than the human element of endeavour on the pathway to success – they must operate effectively in a doom-scrolling world alongside serving up sporting excellence and back-stories.

Our sport, sailing, is being forced to adapt into these Olympic tramlines and the high-profile, crazy political exit of the Finn is, most likely, the tip of the iceberg. Personally I’m fairly enthused by the IQFOiL windsurfers having seen one up close recently (my goodness the windsurfing discipline was in desperate need of a re-boot) and whilst I think World Sailing and the IOC panicked and backed the wrong horse with the kiteboards over the wingfoils, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt – their recent world championship was entertaining to watch although the athletes do look a bit constipated with that optimum body position as they truck at break-neck speed to windward. Will they attract the doom-scrollers? Who am I to say they won’t.

©Martina Orsini

But the one exclusion that really makes my blood boil is that of the entire Parasailing discipline for not only Tokyo 2020/1 but Paris 2024 too. I’ve opined on it before so I won’t re-cover old ground but it’s the biggest horlicks of the current incumbents of World Sailing, however I’m pleased to see that they are making a pro-active attempt with an early launch to try and force their case onto the roster for Los Angeles 2028. I fear though that it’s going to get crushed on the wheel of youth and urban engagement. It shouldn’t.

Parasailing is a vital, thriving discipline at a local level. It deserves to have Olympic status but re-gaining that status is going to be the mother of all tasks. David Graham is on record saying: “We know that IPC President, Andrew Parsons, has already publicly declared that the IPC will be looking at potential ‘new sports’ following the successful introduction of new, youth-focused sports at Tokyo 2020. We are on track to achieve our strategic priorities by 2023 and we are taking nothing for granted.”

©Cate Brown

He’s right to take nothing for granted as sailing is an easy target to take a shot at when it comes to committee-based decisions so clever positioning is going to be required to get on the front-foot and build a compelling case.

Proving unequivocally, global participation is paramount and the incontrovertible truth is that at the recent Hansa World Championships, 181 Para sailors representing 23 nations from six continents including Asia and Africa, took part. What better evidence can they provide.

©Cate Brown

Will parasailing get the nod? Well there are big stipulations that World Sailing has defined in:

  • Increasing worldwide participation to 45 nations on 6 continents.
  • Increasing youth participation (below the age of 30) to 20% of total athletes.
  • Growing the number of female participants to 30% and, ultimately, achieving gender parity.

This should be achievable and as World Sailing recovers from a very near mis-step with the now-rejected proposal to open a satellite office in China, the final period of Quanhai Li’s tenure should be defined by a concerted, all-out effort to get Parasailing back in the Games.

Rather than being a ghost president that passes through the appointment with little to merit his tenure other than financial survival after sailing close to the wind with the delayed Tokyo Games, Li needs to corral every resource to support the disability discipline and utilise every political lever to get it on the roster for Los Angeles 2028.

Failure is not an option. Pack your bags and disappear into obscurity if you do.

14 thoughts on “Los Angeles or bust

  1. It is sad but perhaps inevitable that the Olympics will slide towards an updated version of ‘It’s a Knockout’ (Jeux Sans Frontières)!

    No doubt keeping some basic athletic events to give it historic legitimacy while taking on board as many ‘popular’ events to boost the social media numbers.

    The totally unnecessary expanded opening and closing sections have already fallen to trendy media production companies, unfortunately following the example set by London 2012.

    The Olympic sailing events were gutted by World Sailing in a panic reaction and are now set on the road to oblivion.

    Adding a ‘sailing’ event back in is not on the agenda, as the IOC concentrates on ever shorter timespan events with judges deciding results rather than measurable performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hopefully they are able to get it reinstated.

    This is my Friday and I felt pretty good when I got out of work, but after coming online and seeing the Jeddah lawsuit story and Coutts making a fool of himself on FB, I’m in more of a go-hide-in-a-hole mood.


  3. Small but important point..

    How did the IOC panic it’s choice between kite and wing when wing didn’t exist at the time the decision was made?


      1. Not at the point they had been asked to demonstrate the class viability, equipment process and selection, holding multiple world and European championships, show a youth feeder class.

        Wing currently has none of that at a level required. Will it one day? Quite probably, but kite being on the radar for the IOC since before London 2012 ad how slowly the wheels turn wing isn’t about to get selected in 2021 and raced in 2024.

        Oh and if you wondered where the 90kg riders were all going to find homes? On a kite or an IQ foil


    1. My point is that they should have postponed past 2024, especially with the delay to Tokyo, and in light of emerging disciplines coming through (ie wingboarding) rather than rush the decision and land on the kiteboarding discipline. You’re a kiteboarder and involved in the industry, do you think they made the right decision? Your opinion is highly valid to this debate.


  4. Yes I kite board, but no I am not in any way involved in the industry and haven’t been for over 10 years

    As I said the kite question has been coming prior to 2012 so not really rushed.

    Yes as they have a system that allows riders of different weights and sizes to compete on registered off the shelf gear that’s readily available, no one design or monopoly manufacturing that existed with RSX for example.

    Will you all laugh and point fingers if there is a no-wind day and the kites fall in the water of course you will. Will you get upset if there happens to be a tangle on the start line or a mark rounding, yes you will.

    However I hope you’re also able to do is appreciate the skill and ability of the riders to get round of course faster than anything this side of an AC 75.


    1. We shall embrace them into the broad church of the Olympic sailing family…just takes a bit of getting used to. As I say, the footage from the Worlds and Euros was engaging but I would really like to see a race wire to wire before passing judgement on the actual racing. Is it tactical or is it just different tactics?


      1. It’s tactical but the speeds are higher and the level is such that a small error tacking or gybing can blow out a 100m lead easily making it look processional

        Covering, pinching, high and slow vs low and fast, tacking on the lifts all play a part, because the down speed is so little there is more incentive to play shifts to get to the right part of the course.

        Can you sail your opponent to the back of the fleet in a medal race? God knows? Not in the ben vs Robert way from Sydney but you could cover the hell out of them and screw then over if you wished but by the time you had done that your own hope of climbing back through the fleet would be long gone

        It’s the same as the other classes but upwind in the mid 20s and down wind nudging 40 so I hope the commentators are up to it..


  5. Can’t think of anything worse. Actually I can, the discovery channel Comms team..

    But no I won’t be doing that.


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