We kick off our chat to PETERSSON with the obvious question on everyone's lips; why has sailing had an Olympic medal removed? 'Let me first explain it is not that we [ISAF] are dropping a medal - they [the International Olympic Committee] are taking a medal from us,' says PETERSSON, his accent thickening slightly with the words 'they' and 'taking'. 'We have no direct influence on that. We have, of course, discussed this with them, we have lobbied and we have done everything within our power to avoid this,' he continues.
PETERSSON explains the original decision by the IOC was taken not just in reference to sailing, but as a way of cutting down athlete numbers across the board, a move dating back to the time of the Sydney Games in 2000. He adds that many other sports have had to cut down on the amount of medals and many of those who have not, have had to cut down on the amount of athletes participating. It is important to note here the reasons for losing a medal are an effective cut to athlete numbers not specifically a cut to the representation of sailing on the Olympic stage. 'This reduction was actually due to take place [for sailing] before China. We managed to postpone it because we are at a removed venue and that was an argument they accepted. In 2012 we will be down to ten medals and 380 athletes,' explains PETERSSON.
The IOC's control over sailing at the Olympic Games is extensive, indicative of the IOC taking a significantly bigger interest in the running of all Olympic level sports. 'It has changed a lot over the last ten years, specifically since the IOC began formally evaluating each sport,' say PETERSSON. 'All sports have to concentrate on the things the IOC want and that is generally a lot of things. Specifically now the media issue is the most important one of all. Everything comes down to media which, in turn, comes down to money. We have to be realistic about that.'
Daily Sail subscribers can read the rest of the interview by CLICKING HERE. The full interview will be published on www.sailing.org next week.