The International Sailing Federation (ISAF), that’s who. ISAF can order Guanabara Bay abandoned today and is 100% their responsibility.
And there is no other sport federations that would put up with Guanabara Bay. Every single other sport would have ordered Guanabara Bay abandoned and moved to a clean water site long ago.
In a phone interview April 30, 2015 with ISAF Past President Paul Henderson (commonly called the “Pope of Sailing”), I was out to learn how a venue like Guanabara Bay, the now infamous heavily polluted bay, gets the nod for the place to host the Sailing Olympics?
He started out with the technical answer, there are 120 members of the International Olympic Committee, after the bribing scandal at the Salt Lake City winter Games in 2002, fifteen members are now Athletes for oversight, ten from the summer games, five from the winter games. There are 35 Sports Federations, 28 summer sports and 7 winter sports, of these fifteen are appointed to the International Olympic Committee.
Cities are awarded the Olympic Games, not countries, though countries also have to sign an agreement with the IOC. The cities prepare the bid packages, they are so big, that no person could lift one. Paul said that it would be improbable that any IOC member would actually read the whole thing.
A line Paul regularly uses attributed to Richard Pound, who is a past Vice President of the IOC, first President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), attorney, chartered accountant said, “Bid books are the greatest fiction ever written.”
So ISAF approved Guanabara Bay 7 years ago based on the bid package and site review. And it is ISAF who can unapprove Guanabara Bay because it did not live up to the promise.
We now know that Rio de Janeiro promised in 2009 to provide clean water by 2016, and they aren’t getting even close to having clean water, the water quality has barely changed. As Richard Pound said, “Fiction!”
Have the Olympic Cities ever moved sport venues before? Yes!
- Los Angeles 1984 moved the venue for Sailing four times.
- London 2012 changed the venue for Gymnastics and Badmitton 18 months before the Games opened.
Barcelona 1992 had offered two different venues for sailing in their bid package, Barcelona being heavily polluted and the proposed marina was part of a major shipping port that just didn’t work. Paul (when President of ISAF) said that he negotiated with Barcelona to: A. Build a new marina up the coast away from the commercial traffic, and B. Clean up the sewage that was being dumped into the Mediterranean. Barcelona came through, while the water wasn’t perfect, it was highly improved at the time the Games opened.
While it is hard for us commoners to understand, being a member of the International Olympic Committee comes with huge percs. Being President of the IOC is the Holy Grail. All of your expenses are paid, they don’t stay in Motel 6’s, they stay in the best hotel’s available. They don’t meet in boring places, they meet in places like Monaco and Paris. And they meet Kings (who I’ve been told by others are really just like you and me in conversation).
It starts at the Member National Authority level (like US Sailing) where Presidents of the country sailing organizations aspire to become President of ISAF. From President of ISAF they want desperately to join the IOC board, and then become President of the IOC. Life is extraordinary on the top of the pyramid.
How I interpreted what he was saying is, those in charge of this debacle at ISAF won’t make the right decision to move sailing out of Guanabara Bay. Making a change will prevent them from ascending to the IOC thrown. It will draw attention to them, that will be on their record as they try to move up the ladder. Of course we all know this is the 1950’s style of management, play nice with the other kids, don’t stir the pot, and you get promoted.
In today’s world of management, we are looking for strong leaders who can make improved change when neccessary. And it is necessary to move the Olympics out of Guanabara Bay. Get to it ISAF, stop embarassing all sailors worldwide.
Paul’s day job was running his plumbing company. The Pope of Sailing left me with this thought, with his experience at ISAF and the IOC through the years he has got to know six Kings, while those six Kings know only one plumber. He asked me, “Which group is more exclusive?”
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