Olympic inclusion rears its head again in Boryeong, Korea
KTA release; Daecheon Beach, Boryeong, Korea.
Words: Ian Mackinnon
Kiteboarding hopes to earn a place on the Olympic stage at the Tokyo 2020 Games after World Sailing (WS) proposed it as one of two ‘showcase’ disciplines to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In a late February WS Council meeting delegates decided men’s and women’s kiteboarding events should grace the XXXII summer Olympiad, along with keelboat racing, in addition to sailing’s existing 10 medal disciplines.
The IOC will consider the proposal in the coming months, but any final move on the “showcase” events would come after the decision about the Olympic medal events in July.
As the wind refused to play ball on the second day of the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup in Korea, preventing any racing, talk among the riders inevitably turned to the hope of Olympics inclusion, a dream for most.
However, many uncertainties still remain. While the format and equipment is yet to be selected, the kiteboarding events will almost certainly be some form of “short-track” hydrofoil racing, with proposed 20 men and 20 women competing in separate events.
Although it is not entirely clear what “showcase” events would actually entail, or how much prominence and attention they will be afforded compared to full medal events, they are hopeful to become full medal events at future Games.
Gaining “showcase” status for both men’s and women’s events offers certain upsides compared to “full medal status”, particularly in terms of greater flexibility over competition format and equipment.
Coming on the back of kiteboarding’s debut at the Youth Olympic Games with Twin-Tip slalom racing in Argentina next year, kite hydrofoil racing holds out the promise of electrifying the sailing world with the closest, fastest competition even in the lightest conditions.
With time running short for WS’s Member National Authorities (MNAs) to make preparations for kiteboarders to compete for the available slots, riders hope that equipment rules will likely follow the foiling Formula Kite model, that is, registered production high-performance foils and kites.
“If you do ‘showcase’ events with everything more relaxed, it is likely that there will be fewer restrictions on equipment, format and qualification process” said Markus Schwendtner, IKA CEO.”
For kiteboarding, it is envisaged that the 10 top ranked men and 10 women could qualify directly, with a further 10 men and 10 women — two from each continent — joining them. Such qualification model would ensure both high level competition amongst the world’s best riders and demonstrate the universal spread of the discipline.
It’s been a long road to Tokyo for kiteboarding, but the feeling in Korea is positive. We are almost there and hopes are high for that Olympic debut in 2020, as they are indeed for good winds over the final few days in Daecheon, to finish the IKA Kitefoil Gold Cup & KTA TTR Open in style.
Head to www.kiteboardtour.asia to learn more about TTR racing and upcoming events this summer and keep an eye on our feeds for updates on the action in Boryeong, Korea