malaysia malaise

When we first reported that Israel’s Youth Worlds Windsurfing team was essentially banned from the Malaysia ISAF Youth Worlds, we didn’t realize this problem was not a new one!  After publishing, a number of whistleblowers reached us to tell us that, despite ISAF’s knowledge of highly discriminatory and antisemitic practices from various Muslim nations over the past couple of years, these countries were still permitted to host Olympic and other international qualifiers.  We have learned, for instance, that Israeli sailors were denied visas to the ISAF Sailing World Cup finals in both 2014 and just a couple of months ago in 2015, and we’re talking about a Beijing Bronze Medalist being banned from one of ISAF’s signature events – because of nationality and religion.  Similarly, the RS:X Worlds in Oman earlier this year only allowed an Israeli windsurfer in after agreeing to sail without her national flag.  Thanks in part to thousands of SA’ers and to the viral controversy ignited when Malaysian student Jonathan Ong Ujang dared post “I Love Israel” in response to allegedly antisemitic and anti-Israel actions from organisers of the ISAF Youth Worlds, ISAF a/k/a World Sailing is going to be forced to take some action.

We certainly hope they do, because we are DISGUSTED, and not just with the actions of these nations, which violate every tenet of international sport.  How about our sport’s governing body?  You know, that limited liability company that just renamed itself “WORLD SAILING”?  Shouldn’t they be enforcing standards of equality and nondiscrimination during their own events, and doing it not because Sailing Anarchy humiliates them into it, but because it’s the right thing to do?

World Sailing president Carlo Croce sent us over a statement a few minutes ago.  Let’s break it down:

“As with all diplomatic issues this is quite a delicate matter.  World Sailing is aware of the current commentary in the public arena, and have reason to believe that some of the comments may not be accurate or possibly based on misunderstandings.”

This is a great example of what we call smarm, a type of writing that dismisses without dismissing, that questions without risking, and that criticizes without strength.  It’s a perfect example of the kind of flawed leadership we’ve seen from ISAF for more than a decade.  By saying it’s “delicate’, Croce is saying that ISAF is too weak to do anything about the situation.  And by calling into question ‘some of the comments’, Croce avoids calling the the Israeli Sailing Federation liars, but that’s basically what he’s saying.  We have a call in to the Israelis, but we find it hard to believe that this insidious discrimination as practiced by Abu Dhabi, Oman, and now Malaysia, is ‘not accurate’.  Hopefully ISAF doesn’t accept the usual bullshit excuses from diplomatic types.

“World Sailing is committed to ensuring participation in our sport by competitors from all nations, and is taking this issue seriously.”

If you’re taking it so seriously, where’s the outrage about the Israelis forced to sail in an Oman-based ISAF World Championship in October without their flags? We didn’t hear about it until now, but we don’t have an army of people ‘committed to ensure participation by competitors from all nations’.  Be honest, for a change: You’re only doing something about it now because you were caught.

“A member of the World Sailing Executive is on route to Malaysia to investigate this issue and is seeking clarification from the Malaysian Organising Authority.”

Oh, really?  You couldn’t get clarification from them on the phone and tell them that their event was decertified?  We bet you could.
“World Sailing expects the organising authority of its events to allow sailors from all nations to compete on an equal basis.  This expectation is made clear in the bid process and is set out in the contractual documentation governing our events.”

IS that contractual documentation as useful as the IOC deal with Rio De Janeiro on wastewater treatment?  ‘Cause we’ve seen how much power you have after this ‘bid process’ is over.

World Sailing is not in a position to comment on this further until our investigation is complete.

Of course not.  Why would you comment plainly and honestly when you can wait to issue a long report about it?

ENOUGH, ISAF!  Just stop it.  You have such an easy out here even if you have testicles the size of peas.  You already have the language in most of your agreements, but here, we’ll make it easy for you:

SAMPLE STATEMENT: World Sailing is committed to ensuring equal treatment of every sailor competing in every ISAF -sanctioned event or any sailing event using the Racing Rules of Sailing.  We will hold organizers and NGB staff responsible for any discrimination against any participant on the basis of race, gender, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, philosophical or political opinion, marital status or other grounds.  Incidents of discrimination or unequal treatment like that perpetuated against Israeli sailors by Abu Dhabi, Oman, and most recently, Malaysia, will be aggressively investigated, and violations of ISAF’s Equality Policy will result in immediate decertification of the offending country’s National Governing Body for sailing.  Olympic status will be suspended for all competitors of that country, with a report of decertification to be forwarded to IOC and media.  Any nation found to be in violation will lose the right to host any ISAF-sanctioned or RRS-enabled events.

And by the way, if you’re Jewish or have Jewish friends, now’s the time to tell the America’s Cup to shove it up their asses about Oman.