The International Federation of Kitesports Organisations (IFKO) has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to intervene in a dispute over the positioning of kiteboarding in the sports movement.
Kiteboarding is currently governed by World Sailing, which is seeking to add the sport to its programme for the 2024 summer Olympic Games in Paris. In February 2017, World Sailing hailed the signing of a “landmark agreement” which aimed to unite the kiteboarding community and end a period of turmoil in the sport.
World Sailing signed the agreement with the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) and the Global Kitesports Association (GKA). Under the pact, World Sailing, the IKA and the GKA are seeking to promote, and expand interest worldwide in competitive kiteboarding and regulate the management and responsibilities for the sport.
Kiteboarding combines wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and gymnastics and has grown in popularity in recent years, so much so that in May 2012 it was briefly granted a place on the programme of events for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. However, its status as an Olympic sport, replacing windsurfing, was short-lived as the decision was overturned six months later following opposition from sailing representatives.
The IFKO has been fighting a long-running battle over the dominance of World Sailing and the IKA in kite sports, accusing both organisations of monopolising the format.
“It seems it is common knowledge that World Sailing and the kite companies’ millionaire joint owners have important friends in positions of authority inside IOC and ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations), with enough power to influence the IOC decisions for their own agenda,” IFKO president Diogo Fernandes wrote in an open letter reported by the SurferTodaywebsite copied to IOC president Thomas Bach and other leaders. “And worst of all, to infringe several EU laws inside the Olympic structure all leading to fulfilling a certain kind of non-sporting interests.”
IFKO has accused the IOC of “abuse of dominant position over IFKO and kite sports”, ignoring the IOC’s own Olympic Charter and the statutes of the ASOIF, Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF).
In the letter, Fernandes also made two requests. Firstly, to allow kite riders and the IFKO to decide and manage the kite disciplines if the IOC wants the sport in the Olympics. Secondly, to grant the IFKO a fair opportunity to become a full member of GAISF.
The kiteboarding situation is mirrored in certain other disputes taking place in the sports movement at present, chiefly the dispute over the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG’s) interest in parkour and the battle for control of StandUp Paddle (SUP) between the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and International Surfing Association (ISA).