Read the full transcript of the President's Report below….
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Members of the Council,
Quite a few things have happened in the world of sport that will have a profound influence since we last met in Warsaw [at the 2009 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting in May].
First I would like to congratulate our Brazilian friends with the IOC selection of Rio as the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games. A fantastic choice for sailing. As a member of the IOC Evaluation Commission I have had the privilege to learn about the bids first hand and the opportunity to visit all the venues. The final presentation by the Rio Team to the IOC on the 2 October 2009 in Copenhagen was the best ever seen. The key message being that the Games had never been to South America, the time is now, Rio and Brazil are ready and they can definitely do it. There have always been concerns about finance with this venue but the Chairman of the Brazilian Central Bank made a confident speech stating "We are the 10th largest economy in the world and by 2016 we will be the fifth!" Also the issue of security was raised and addressed in the bid. Very impressive. Also the issue of security was addressed and well addressed by the Bid Committee.
President Lula gave an impressive sales pitch which was sincere and truthful. I think this provides us with a great opportunity for sailing in Brazil, in South America, and actually it will give us the ability to show case our sport against a spectacular back drop.
The Olympic Congress was held this year and this is only held every 15 years. It gives direction to the entire Olympic Movement. Some very clear messages came out of this Congress, that will affect ISAF directly. The ISAF Council and Executive will need to study the final recommendations very carefully but I would like now to mention a few recommendations, because I feel that ISAF should address these urgently.
The first conclusion of the 66 recommendations reads;
"Athletes must be included within the decision making bodies of the Olympic Movement through Athletes Commissions and other positions that carry full voting rights".
Well, we have an Athletes Commission, which is well run and very active, but ISAF has no athletes in positions that carry full voting rights.
So we have a clear message and the challenge is ours to make it happen. I believe there should be an athletes representative on the Executive and therefore also on Council. We cannot do this overnight and today I would like to propose to you that we invite Ben Barger, Chairman of the Athletes Commission, to join us at the table for the remainder of the meeting with the right to speak on any subject he likes, but for the moment he will have no voting rights. The full implementation of the recommendation requires changes to our Constitution and Regulations. This, I trust, will be done as soon as possible.
I would also like to mention here that our Olympian and Hall of Fame Sailor, Barbara Kendall, is an Athletes representative and Member of the IOC. She is doing a fantastic job and I noticed personally how well respected she is within the IOC and the Olympic Movement.
As you know Governance was already one of my interests and a topic in this term of my office. I am strengthened in my belief that we should address this issue within ISAF.
I would like to draw your attention to Conclusion number 41 of the IOC Congress which reads:
"The legitimacy and the autonomy of the Olympic Movements depends on upholding the highest standards of ethical behaviour and good governance. All members of the Olympic Movement should adopt, as their minimum standard, the Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance of the Olympic Movement, as proposed by the IOC. All members of the Olympic Movement must always demonstrate integrity, accountability and transparency, as well as the highest level of management skill; and they must ensure, that at all times their legal status is both fully consistent with their activities and responsibilities and wholly compliant with the laws of the land (applicable laws)".
More needs to be done to complete the task and I intend to undertake an independent audit on how we are structured and how this measures up against the IOC principles of good governance. By 2012 ISAF must be fully compliant with the IOC Charter and the basic Universal Principles of Good Governance as proposed by the IOC.
Our position in the Games.
As you know the IOC voted "en bloc" for the 26 (current) core sports for the 2016 Games and added Golf and Rugby.
The IOC Sports Evaluation Report reads that we have demonstrated improvements in particular with the medal race and the spectators on the breakwater. We are up in the TV ratings and the ASOIF report on TV ratings, which focussed on the UK market, scored sailing 3rd sport in the viewing figures.
But, the work is never complete. The IOC directive and trends are clear! We need to look at the universality of our sport; regional qualifiers for the Olympic Games are required for 2016. Equal opportunity for women's participation in the Olympic Programme is very important. We must not be complacent as this quote from the IOC recommendations of the Congress shows:
"It is essential that periodic reviews conducted by the IOC be maintained, so that the promotion and regulation of sports may be subject to regular appraisal. More research is needed to understand the contribution made by the sports and disciplines within the Olympic Programme to the overall value of the Games".
Our Olympic Commission has been tasked to ensure the continued and improved value of sailing in the Games. A strategic approach is essential. I am going to be a little more blunt than normal for the sake of clarity. In my opinion too often we have made decisions in ISAF led by our own personal feelings, loyalty or sense of belonging and even, dare I say, self interest in respect of the country you represent,. We should have made decisions on what would develop the sport best for the Olympics. However, I am confident that the Olympic Commission is tackling this problem and that we will deliver. Already next year the IOC will vote on reducing the "safe" so called core sports from 26 to 25 and I do not want sailing to go out of this core.
This year's start of the ISAF Sailing World Cup has been an exciting and important step forward for ISAF. I would like to thank the event organisers and the management group for the progress made. It is clear, however, that much more work still needs to be done and I personally feel that the World Cup needs to be given even greater importance with a very well defined purpose. We have many levels of 'World' labelled products in the Olympic Classes: World Rankings; World Cup; ISAF World Championship and Class World Championship. I am not sure this structure serves the promotion and the marketing of our sport but more importantly the sailor's best interest and I look forward to the relevant committees being able to deal with these questions and challenges.
Talking about challenges.
In May during the Council meeting, we had a very good brainstorming session on Strategic Planning. We then struggled to move forward and group your ideas into a real plan and I am very happy to tell you that you will be presented at this meeting with the progress on this project to be finally decided by you at the Mid-Year Meeting.
I am also very pleased with the progress we are making on development, the grassroots of our sport. The Secretariat now has a dedicated Training and Development Manager, Dan Jaspers. I hope you had a chance to meet him or see him presenting at the Connect to Sailing Seminar. I am sure you will agree that his enthusiasm is endless. We have received a substantial grant from the IOC to "Train the Trainers" and I hope there will be the opportunity of obtaining more money if we succeed in this project. With Dan steering the helm I am sure we will stand a good chance.
I have only touched on a small cross section of the ISAF activities and in preparing this report I realised how much actually is going on in ISAF. I am pleased to be the President of an organisation which is so alive and full of activities from the elite to grass roots level, from competition to cruising sailing. I now propose we move on with the agenda and this concludes my report."
For more on the 2009 ISAF Annual Conference, including news, interviews with some the key players, meeting papers and more go to www.sailing.org/meetings.