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World Sailing report into discrimination at the 2015 Youth World Sailing Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia – 13 January 2016

World Sailing deeply regret that 2 sailors from the Israel Yachting Association (IYA) were unable to compete at the 2015 Youth World Championships due to the conditions imposed by the Malaysian authorities, in order for them to be allowed permission to enter the country and compete at the regatta.   

A thorough investigation of this matter has been undertaken on behalf of the Executive Committee of World Sailing with the full co-operation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The findings were reviewed by an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee in London on the 8 January 2016.

The key facts are set-out below and as a consequence of the investigation World Sailing   re-affirms and defines more explicitly, the requirements of its “no discrimination” regulations on all regatta organizers.

In summary, going forward, in the event of a breach of the “no discrimination” regulations at a regatta, World Sailing shall at its discretion impose sanctions on the Member National   Authority (MNA) concerned. These may include:

  • 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.

Summary of the Facts surrounding the Incident at the 2015 Youth World Sailing Championships

November 2011 ISAF Awards Youth Worlds to the Malaysian Sailing Association
25 March 2015 Registration to the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in  Malaysia opens
25 March 2015 ISAF puts the Israel Yachting Association (IYA) in touch with the  Malaysian Sailing Association to start the visa process. 
22 June 2015 ISAF continued to seek information required for the visa process 
6 August 2015 (20 weeks before the event) MSA continues to request IYA for submission of details of Israeli competitors
15 October 2015 (10.5 weeks before the event) Israel Yachting Association (IYA) supplies the names of 2 sailors and 1 coach with the required information 
16 December 2015 (2 weeks before the event) MSA writes to IYA with conditions for entry which included:

  • Participation limited to the formal part of the event;
  • Participation under the banner and flag of ISAF;
  • No display of ISR flags or logos or colours, or playing of ISR anthem
  • Restrictions on travel and purchases
23 December 2015 IYA informs the media that they will not permit its sailors to take part
24 December 2015 IYA informs World Sailing that they will not permit its sailors to take part
27 December 2015 Official Arrival Day

The conditions required by the Malaysian authorities breached Article 7 of the World Sailing constitution. The late starting of the process to enable Israeli sailors to participate, delays and poor communication by all parties during that process, and the late notification of the conditions, contributed to the outcome and made it impossible for World Sailing and IOC to resolve the incident before the championships.
Following the investigation, World Sailing will be writing to both the Malaysian Sailing Association and the Israel Yachting Association in relation to this matter.

World Sailing policy on discrimination
There is no place for discrimination of any kind in the worldwide sport of sailing and an obligation of membership of World Sailing is to act without discrimination. This applies equally to National Authorities, Regional Associations, and Classes. World Sailing will  impose sanctions on any member who breaches his obligations in this area.

The objects and aims of World Sailing include: “to promote the sport of sailing in all its branches regardless of race, religion, gender, physical ability or political affiliation.”

Members’ obligations (Article 6) include: “to promote the objects of the Federation [and] to refrain, and to use reasonable endeavours to persuade others within their area of jurisdiction to refrain, from actions that are inconsistent with the objects.”  

Article 7 states it shall be the obligation of a Member “to ensure that there shall be no discrimination on the grounds of race, religion or political affiliation against any competitor representing an Member National Authority”.  

Regulation 1.13(a) requires Member National Authorities to: “remain autonomous and resist any political, religious or financial pressure that may infringe on their obligations.”

World Sailing strives to grow the sport worldwide, encouraging and supporting regattas in all countries and cultures. While doing this, World Sailing will enforce its regulations and never act in a way that could be seen to condone discrimination.

In relation to this, the International Olympic Committee recently stated, following its summit on 17 October 2015, that “the Summit agreed that for all competitions taking place under the auspices of an International Federation or National Olympic Committee or their continental or regional associations, it has to be ensured that all athletes from all their members can  enter a country to compete and are treated equally. It was agreed that should this rule not be respected, the event in question cannot serve as a qualification event for the Olympic Games or any other championship.” World Sailing confirms it will apply this guidance strictly to all future sailing regattas.

World Sailing Conclusions and Decisions
World Sailing re-affirms, and defines more explicitly, the requirements of its “no discrimination” regulations on regatta organizers.  
The purpose of the regulations is to ensure that sailors from all MNAs are able to participate fully and equally in sailing competitions they are eligible to enter and World Sailing provides the following clarifications:

  • All sailors at all sailing events shall be entitled to race with their country code letters on their sails. A requirement for sailors to enter any sailing event under “World Sailing” or other disguising title breaches World Sailing regulations.
  • If country flags are to be displayed, anthems played, or national team clothing worn, this shall apply equally to all sailors from all MNAs.
  • All World Sailing championships involve an element of country representation, and at all these regattas, flags shall be displayed and winners’ anthems played. They shall be displayed and played equally for all competitors. Organizing Authorities who are not able to meet this requirement should not bid, and will not be selected, to host future World Sailing championships.
  • The principle also applies to officials appointed by World Sailing to regattas. An Organizing Authority or host country MNA shall not seek to restrict such appointments on the grounds of race or any other discrimination.
  • With regard to security, World Sailing believes that security is the responsibility of the host country; and there shall be no obligation to accept other nations’ security personnel. Security considerations may mean sailors from different countries are treated differently ashore.

When selecting future venues, World Sailing shall require:

  • Explicit acceptance at the bid stage and in the contract of sailing’s “no discrimination” requirement as it applies to that regatta.
  • Any necessary processes to be initiated in good time.
  • Impose sanctions on the Member National Authority in the event that the requirement is not met.

Known areas of difficulty shall be taken into account when evaluating venues. The chosen venue shall identify any areas of risk, and agree with World Sailing the schedule for progressing them. This schedule needs to recognize that some elements are outside the host venue or MNA’s control, and shall be designed to ensure that any identification of problems or discussion of conditions is early enough to enable a resolution to be agreed in good time.

Countries who do not have diplomatic relations with the country of a chosen venue, and officials who know they may have difficulty over entry into a country, shall accept the need to highlight these challenges well in advance. Such countries shall be prepared to select sailors and plan participation early enough for arrangements to be made.

Changing venue after selection is never desirable. In future, World Sailing staff will explicitly report on the implementation of its “no discrimination” requirement at a World Sailing regatta to the committee responsible so that any emerging difficulties can promptly be escalated to the Council of World Sailing.

In the event of a breach at a regatta, World Sailing shall at its discretion impose sanctions on the MNA concerned. These may include 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.

World Sailing will communicate with already-selected venues for forthcoming World Sailing championships to ensure these championships will permit full and equal participation by all. These include Oman 2016, Israel 2017 and Corpus Christi 2018.
World Sailing and its MNAs have a real opportunity with the 2016 Youth World Sailing Championships in Oman to show youth sailors representing all World Sailing member nations competing against each other fully and equally.

World Sailing shall require the implementation of sailing’s “no discrimination” regulation across local, regional and international sailing regattas organized by its members.
World Sailing shall publicize the requirements, including clarifications, and encourage all organizations to adhere to these requirements. Advice shall be sought on whether any additions should be made to the Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-2020.

In all the above, World Sailing will continue to liaise with IOC for advice on the appropriateness of its regulations, and guidance on their most effective international implementation.

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