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With Cancellation of Kiteboarding Finals, Talk Turns to Olympics

11 Oct, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Well, here’s a new one. Poor weather conditions disrupted the Formula Kiteboarding World Championships in China in mid-September, leading to a discussion about possibly including the sport in Tokyo in the 2020 Olympics.

Just to be perfectly clear: Kiteboarding was not voted in as one of the five new sports (although surfing was); however, Inside The Games noted that when the championships could not be held, 60 kiteboard athletes from 19 countries spent their time being briefed on the sport’s possible inclusion.

According to the article, “Markus Schwendtner, the International Kiteboarding Association's (IKA) chief executive officer, outlined the possible pathway to an Olympics berth and the potential pitfalls that could lie in the way.

Key among the elite racers’ fears is that the Neil Pryde group, an equipment manufacturer, is attempting to establish a “one-design” CR:X class with its convertible low performance foil, twin-tip board, and tube kite.

Riders were told that in line with their wishes, the IKA’s favored option is to hold trials of leading high-performance hydrofoils and kites, choosing one of each for mass production as a one design model to be used in the Olympic Games and qualifier events.”

The adoption of a standard would mean all athletes could train and compete on the same equipment.

World Sailing, under which kiteboarding is presently grouped as a subdiscipline, is not able to increase the 10 medals available to the governing body at Tokyo 2020, with the organization due to discuss its plans for the medals line-up at its annual conference in Barcelona in November.

A final decision will be taken at a World Sailing special assembly in February by delegates from Member National Authorities (MNA).  

Any decision to include kiteboarding in the 2020 Games would need to be agreed upon by the IOC in June. However, World Sailing’s former president, Paul Henderson, is vehemently opposed to kiteboarding’s grouping with sailing. Kiteboarding was briefly chosen to replace windsurfing on the Olympic program for Rio 2016 in May 2012; however, the sailing community put up fierce opposition and the decision was reversed less than a year later. Henderson would like to see the sport included as a discipline of surfing, and governed by the International Surfing Association.

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