Nick Dempsey slams ‘bizarre’ decision to scrap windsurfing from future Olympics
Norfolk Olympic medal hope Nick Dempsey has hit out at sailing's governing body for 'slowly ruining the sport' with their 'bizarre' decision to drop windsurfing from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The International Sailing Federation announced on Saturday that the discipline would be replaced by kiteboarding after this summer's Games. The decision has been met by surprise and frustration within the windsurfing fraternity, which was epitomised by 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Dempsey.
'It is bizarre,' said Dempsey, from Mulbarton but now based at Weymouth. 'I don't quite know how the ISAF have come up with the decision, but they have. It is based on a group of out-of-touch old guys that have no idea what they are talking about and are slowly ruining the sport.
'It is massively out of the blue. A big shock and really disappointing. I can't actually believe how many people are so passionate about it and emotional about it. I think there is going to be quite a backlash and they are certainly not going to lie down and give up.
'I think people will be working very hard to get the decision overturned. It has to try to get back in for the 2020 Games. I think without that windsurfing will fade away a little bit. It has to be in the Olympics for it to carry on as an everyday sport. It needs that main kind of media platform at the top to feed everything else.'
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Dempsey's shock has been echoed by many, including Royal Yachting Association Olympic manager Stephen Park.
He described the news as 'astounding' via his Twitter account and, while conceding it is a 'massive blow' for windsurfing, believes Britain will field a strong kiteboarding team in four years time.
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'The recent decision by the ISAF to remove windsurfing from the Olympic programme is clearly a massive blow for windsurfing, while equally a huge opportunity for kitesurfing,' said Park.
'I think windsurfing will continue as a sport and there are plenty of other events that have dropped out of the Olympic programme and come back in.'