ASF hands windsurfing an Olympic lifeline
Windsurfing's hopes of staying in the Olympic Games have been given a boost following an agreement reached by the Asian Sailing Federation (ASF) over the weekend.
At an extraordinary general meeting of the Asian governing body in Singapore, it was unanimously agreed by their 27 members that windsurfing should stay in the Olympic Games as one of the classes in the sailing events, which would mean no room for kiteboarding.
The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) shocked the water sports world in May when they decided to axe windsurfing from the 2016 Rio Games in favour of kiteboarding.
'This is a good sign for the petition to keep windsurfing in the Games, although a lot more hard work is required in the coming months,' said Dennis Chau Wai-keung of the Hong Kong Windsurfing Association, who attended the meeting. 'The Asian members have sent out a strong message to the world body that they should not replace windsurfing at the Olympic Games.'
According to Chau, a submission will be made by each Asian member to the ISAF executive committee before the end of the month saying they want to readdress the Olympic programme at November's annual general meeting. Some European nations will make similar submissions.
'The ISAF executive committee will then have to decide if they will pass the issue back to the council for another vote between windsurfing and kiteboarding, and I see a high possibility of this because of the pressure made by individual members' submissions,' he said.
The ISAF council comprises the president, seven vice-presidents and 31 other members.
'The president and the seven vice-presidents form the ISAF executive committee and are in strong favour of kiteboarding, but even under their hard push, kiteboarding only won by two votes against windsurfing [19-17 with two abstentions] in the ballot in May,' Chau added. 'If there is a re-vote, it is difficult to say who will be the winner.'
Windsurfing has been an Olympic discipline since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and has a proud history in Hong Kong, being the only sport in which the city has won a gold medal - Lee Lai-shan at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Hong Kong will be represented by one male and one female windsurfer at the London Games.