New Sport to Replace Windsurfing in Rio Summer Games 2016

According to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) the sport known as kiteboarding will replace windsurfing after the 2012 London summer games.  This announcement has come as a surprise to those planning to compete in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.  The vote took place during the 2012 ISAF mid-year meeting in Stresa, Italy.  During this meeting the ISAF Council  also confirmed the equipment to be used in the Mixed Multihull and Women’s Skiff comptetitions.

An evaluation group was formed in November 2011 to look at the kiteboarding formats with the water board events for the Rio summer games in 2016 defined as ‘windsurfing and/or kiteboarding’.  Not only did the group recommend kiteboarding to be included in the ISAF event family, but they went a step further and selected kiteboarding to be the event in the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition.

The president of the ISAF, Göran Petersson, made the following statement:

These announcements mark a new era for sailing and we welcome the new classes into the ISAF family. The equipment selections have fulfilled the criteria set out by the Evaluation Panel and we look forward to seeing the boats not only at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but the ISAF Sailing World Cup and ISAF Sailing World Championships.”

“Kiteboarding has proven to us that it is ready to be included into the list of prestigious ISAF Events and it is a fantastic addition to the sailing programme for the 2016 Olympic Games.”

In the Rio 2016 Summer Games there will be both a men’s and women’s kiteboarding event, with another eight sailing events including two-person mixed multihull and a number of Dinghy events.  All ten events will be featured in the 2012 – 2013 Sailing World Cup with begins in Melbourne, Australia and concludes in Santander, Spain in 2014 for the ISAF Sailing World Championships.

There are detractors to the decision, however, including Peter Conde, Yachting Australia’s high performance director.  As he told Reuters:

“Obviously we’ve got quite a few young sailors in particular who have been campaigning and building a campaign particularly with 2016 in mind and I guess we’ve been investing via national windsurfing programs.  Clearly those sailors are pretty devastated. At least at first (glance) it looks like their dreams have been dashed by this decision.

“I guess it remains to be seen as to whether many of those athletes might want to take a fresh look and embrace kiteboarding as a new discipline. I guess we’d be encouraging them to look at it.”

There has been a vow from a number of windsurfing federations to campaign the ISAF for the reinstatement of the sport, including Beijing bronze medalist Bryony Shaw.

About the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

The 2016 Summer Olympics officially, known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, will be held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.  The games will be held from August 5 through the 21st.  These games will mark an important first in a number of ways; it will be the first time the Olympic Games have been held in a South American country, it will mark the third time the games have been held in the Sourthern Hemisphere, and it will be the first time that the Olympic Games have been hosted by a Portuguese-speaking country.  These games will also mark the second time the Summer Olympic Games have been hosted by a Latin American country (Mexico City being the first in 1968). 

The bidding process for the games ended with four “shortlist” finalists:

  • Madrid, Spain
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Among the prospective host citties that missed the final cut were Doha, Qatar, Prague, Czech Repulic, and Baku, Azerbaijan.

The Olympic sites will be spread throughout four zones in the city: Barra Tijuca, Copacabana Beach, Deodoro, and the Maracanã.  Many of these sites will be utilized during the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

The Olympic Games in Rio will feature 28 sports and a total of 38 disciplines.  Two open spots for new sporting events have caused a number of sports to bid for inclusion, particularly baseball and softball which were both dropped in 2005.  Other sports bidding for inclusion are rugby, roller sports, karate, squash, judo, wake boarding and golf.  After some deliberation, rugby sevens and golf were both granted a space in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The logo for the Rio Olympic Games depicts three colored figures – green, yellow, and blue (Brazil’s national colors) – in an embrace symbolizing Sugarloaf Mountain.  This logo was created by the Rio agency Tatil.

There have been a number of concerns regarding holding the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.  First and foremost of the concerns would be safety for the spectators.  Brazil holds a reputation for a certain level of crime and many commentators worry about tourists ending up robbed or worse.  However, the fact remains that many of the more dangerous areas of Rio are located in the Favelas, or shanty towns, and there is no real reason for a tourist to be visiting that part of the city.

Tourists are also advised to avoid Copacabana beach at night, although with the large Olympic presence there it is unlikely that the beach will remain unsafe with all the attention.

The government of Rio de Janeiro has been involved in a number of campaigns to secure the favelas and to remove the perceived threat to the safety of tourists.  Of course, this is an enormous task that they have tried to accomplish for years, but with the FIFA World Cup AND Olympics on the horizon, it is likely that the law enforcement agencies have renewed enthusiasm for public safety.  One avenue that is being used to achieve greater security in the favelas is the UPP, or Police Pacification Units, which uses a basis of trust building through the use of street patrols.