Sport

2016 decision stuns windsurfers

AUSTRALIAN Windsurfing Association president Brett Morris has had the wind taken out of his sails.

The Sydneysider said he could not believe the International Sailing Federation's decision last week to scrap his sport from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 in favour of kiteboarding.

What made him even more ropable was the admission by the Spanish Sailing Federation days later that its delegate voted incorrectly for kiteboarding at the expense of windsurfing at the ISF meeting in Italy due to confusion over the voting process.

Spanish Sailing Federation president Gerard Pombo accepted responsibility and apologised.

"Spain supported, and supports, the maintenance of windsurfing in the Olympic Games of 2016," he said in a statement.

The Spanish blunder meant the vote went 19-17 in favour of kiteboarding, instead of ending 18-all. But Morris said it appeared nothing was going to change the outcome.

"It reeks of incompetence or bribery," an angry Morris said.

"It really is mind-boggling that someone doesn't supposedly know what they are voting for at this level - it's unreal."

But it's not only the fact that someone got it wrong in the all-important vote that has left Morris fuming.

"I just don't know how windsurfing could be axed for a something that doesn't really exist as a sport," he said.

"It doesn't have a network of clubs across the world like we have - it doesn't have anything at grassroots level to build on.

"Competing in an Olympics is the pinnacle for our sport, but now that dream has been crushed.

"If they wanted to bring kiteboarding in, why didn't they make it a demonstration sport in 2016 like so many other sports have done in the past?

Windsurfing has been on the Olympic programme since Los Angeles in 1984 and an online petition to force a change in the ISAF decision had gathered more than 17,000 signatures yesterday.

"There's a lot of unhappy people out there," Morris said.

"I think they (the ISAF) have made a massive mistake."



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