69,000 refunds

We have been crystal clear in our call to have canceled the Olympics months ago. And with the news that there are 100 unvaccinated US Olympians (out of a 600+ total) in these games, we are appalled that ONE US Athlete wasn’t vaccinated. But 100?:?

You mean to say that somebody thought that sending 100 unvaccinated athletes to Japan, who are in the midst of a serious Covid uptick was a good idea?? Just exactly what in the fuck is wrong with our priorities?

Well, they made it. The Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games took place this evening to 69,000 empty seats so the usual atmosphere was sadly missing. Presumably, 69,000 refunds are currently being processed.

It has to be said it is brave of Japan to press on with The Games, both from the COVID risk and of course the financial hit from the lack of ticket sales.

The parade of athletes was also sparse with many countries opting to reduce the parade of athletes along with the requirement for athletes to not travel to Japan sooner than 5 days before the start of their events.

Of course with the Olympic Sailing Regatta kicking off in a couple of days off Enoshima Island with the Windsurfers and Lasers all the sailors will be in Japan already and around 10 sailors were flag bearers at the opening ceremony.

As I write this, the first Gold Medal has been won, the 10m Air Rifle. Not to take away from the winner but that is just half the length of a cricket pitch and somewhat indicative of the competition for medal numbers that sailing faces. 

Not as bad as softball or baseball however with both events having a massive entry of just 6 teams, a fairly obvious example of playing to the gallery.

The pundits have been busy with who is most likely to win what but sailing over the years has thrown up many surprises and these choices are largely informed opinions. 

Where my interest lies would be in the Finn Class where Giles Scott has in the past been dominant but of course he has had the distraction of the America’s Cup and will Josh Junior’s selection by NZL over his compatriot prove an inspired move by the selectors or otherwise. Both have tasted gold before being former Finn Gold Cup winners with Scott, in addition being the reigning Olympic Champion.

Over in the Nacra 17 will Santiano Lange (age 59 and a cancer survivor) & Ceclia Saroli be able to repeat their golden success in Rio or  will reigning world champions (GBR) or the Outteridge siblings (AUS)

Over in the Men’s Laser, 5-time medalist Robert Scheidt returns to the fray at age 48 which is hardly young for the Laser. A podium finish will give him the biggest medal tally in Olympic Sailing history. In the Radial Marit Boumeester (NED) returns to defend her Rio title and the opportunity to become a rare 3 times women’s Olympic Sailing medal winner.

In the Women’s 470 Hannah Mills has a similar opportunity to become a three times medalling Olympian (currently 1 silver, I gold) with a new crew on the wire in Eilidh McIntyre. While Eilidh is a new name to the GBR Sailing Squad. McIntyre is not. Her father Mike won Gold on Asian waters in the 1988 Seoul Games.

Over in the men’s 470 Belcher & Ryan (AUS) are back but three fast European teams (ESP, SWE & POR) may have something to say about the shape of the podium.

The RS:X Men will have an entirely new podium as the three who filled the 3 steps last tie-out was either not selected or didn’t campaign for Tokyo. Called ‘Air-Rowing’ by some, including former World Sailing President, Paul Henderson it is a very physical discipline.

Charline Picon (FRA) will be attempting to defend her RS:X Women’s title but according to the WS web page the other two podium finishers from CHN & RUS have apparently not confirmed their attendance (with one day to go?)

That leaves the two skiffs, the 49er and the 49FX.

In the ladies’ version Martine Grael & Kahine Kinze (BRA) are back to defend the title they won on home waters 4 years ago. Grael is the daughter of another famous sailor, TorbenGrael who never stood on the top step of the Olympic podium, perhaps cheated out of that chance by the 1980 boycott. He had certainly won every major Soling Championship on either side of those games.

Last but not least, the 49er. Every sailor can have a bad regatta but who would bet against Burling & Tuke (NZL). They must be the only sailors in the event that may find the 49er slow compared to their previous steed. 

Burling has 9 World Championships under his belt while Tuke has 8. Six of their successes have been shared in the 49er. If there is any event that has a firm favourite it must be this pairing.

SO which nation will come out top in the overall standings. GBR has an amazing Olympic Sailing record, toping the overall medal table and being there or thereabouts since the likes of Ainslie, Percy & Robertson came on the scene in 2000.

More remarkably is the fact that there has hardly been a medal race (sailing’s final), since the format was introduced, that has been missed by a GBR sailor. Can you imagine the fuss the mainstream media would make if every member of  country’s track and field team made EVERY final at EVERY Olympics? Yet when Sailing GBR achieve that the banner headlines say… Oh wait, not even a mention. Our sport is just so bad at shouting about our successes from the rooftops.

A bit of a disappointment when researching this article is that the list of competitors on the World Sailing sub site was incomplete AT 24 HOURS before it all kicks off. This quadrennial regatta is what provides our governing body with a large percentage of its income and they cannot even be bothered to get that right.

In 24 hours it is a case of “Let the Games begin”. Kicks off tomorrow with the Windsurfers and Lasers (Radial and Standard).  – SS.