Politics intervenes in Orienteering   13 comments

The EWG (European Working Group) just decided to cancel our hosting of EYOC 2013, and transfer it to another (as yet unknown) nation, based on the security situation in the Middle East. Their letter is here.
Maybe their decision is a correct one from a certain point of view, but the way in which it was reached is not appropriate, and the consequences are far-reaching:

  • There was no consultation with us, or with any authorities in Israel. The IOF event advisor understandably cancelled his planned visit, which was due to take place just after the week of fighting around the Gaza strip, but the next communication from him was this letter.
  • Does the EWG know anything about the "security situation" here in Israel. Have they sent any representatives to look around? Maybe they can check how many civilians have been hurt here in terrorist attacks and wars in 2012, compared to the number hurt in traffic accidents (just guessing – under 3% ?). How does that compare to (just for example) Norway in 2011? Or Spain in 2004?
  • This round of fighting occurred a year before the planned EYOC. The previous such "wars" were at the end of 2008 (8 months before MTB-WOC 2009, which went ahead as planned) and in 2006. Based on past experience, the security situation over the next few months or years is going to be better than before the fighting.
  • I haven't heard of any other international events here being cancelled – though one football match was postponed by a week. The draw for the UEFA under-21 football finals was held here yesterday. ISF schools events are held here every year (look at the list). Are there security problems only for orienteering?
  • Consequences – according to the logic that they are worried about participants under 18, we needn't apply for EYOC ever again, because there's no chance of getting to organise it before we have official peace with all our neighbours. The same applies for JWOC, because there is a large percentage of under-18s there as well. I hope this is taken into account when we apply to organise EOC or WOC, or will the IOF tell us to prove our capabilities with the junior championships first?

I think this was a political decision, and that the EWG have been waiting for an excuse to cancel our EYOC ever since they awarded us the event. I would also like to note that I have no suspicions of such bias in the IOF council, and if I was making the decisions here I would immediately apply for JWOC or EOC in 2016 (the earliest possible year).

We'll probably hear more about this issue in the near future. Meanwhile, everyone is invited for some orienteering in Israel, throughout the winter. We have lots of interesting terrain, good weather, hundreds of friendly and accommodating orienteers, and modern and safe surroundings. Details here.

Posted 29/11/2012 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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13 responses to “Politics intervenes in Orienteering

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  1. F writes:Sorry to hear this!There has been some worries to send youngsters to Israel and I am quite sure that this is purely for safety reasons. I am quite sure that you can give a little understanding for the decision makers: kids safety comes first!

  2. Anonymous writes:Legality of the decision is not so obvious as said in the letter. It was given at the end of November, not before the end of Oct as the whole text written below says."The meeting granted a mandate to EWG to replace ISR as organizer of EYOC2013 withanother federation if the security situation in the region should deteriorate.The decision about a possible replacement would be taken before the end of October thisyear."

  3. Samuel Vainiomäki writes:I'm very sorry for the Israeli orienteering community. Of course the situation was very different in Israel last winter, but back then I had wonderful experiences there both as an orienteer and as a tourist and felt very secure. My sympathies!

  4. Ziv writes:It's not politics – it's ignoranc – or it's the same?

  5. Anonymous writes:It should also be noted that the latest round of hostilities was nowhere near the planned sites for the EYOC. TV is hardly a tool for making such decisions. As Ziv wrote, the decision shows a lot of ignorance at best.

  6. PP writes:Hi, Unfortunately I was a delegate at this year meeting of EWG. And I know for sure which countries is fighting against EYOC2013 in Israel. It is really pity to see how politics are coming into sport. And worse, into sport, where there is really no big money to fight for.

  7. Anonymous writes:Hi, what might be ongoing now? Is there happening a decision what to do…or what might be ongoing?

  8. Anonym writes:Sorry, I think you are wrong. This was not a political decision. In switzerland you will to be of age with 18 and the participants can't decision oneself. The swiss orienteering federation can not assume the responsibility, if the swiss foreign department officially warnig for travalling in this area (http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/de/home/travad/hidden/hidde2/israel.html).

  9. Anonym writes:And why then can Israel not live in peace with its neighbours and share with the initial inhabitants of the territory? Because that is the main reason of the whole trouble here with EYOC. Everybody would like to travel to Israel for EYOC if only they could live peaceful with their neighbours!

  10. Bernd Wollenberg writes:If this IOF-Event-Advisor don´t work about the "Danger for war", well, so he don´t know what is the realy situation in Israel by Orienteering! If the IOF interest: I have a License as IOF-Advisor and I arrange after read ths a Tripp to Israel from 27th Dec to 7th Jan 2013, enouth time too for a Controll-Visti!All the Best for the Israel Orienteerers and for the Israel orienteering Assosiation! Yours friend Bernd Wollenberg

  11. Anonymous writes:To the commenter that asked "why then can Israel not live in peace with its neighbours?": This is a totally irrelevant question when discussing sports in general and orienteering in particular. There is no room for political questions in sports. I think that the safety issue has and will be addressed properly by the event organizers in Israel. I would dare to guess that if the event were to be scheduled in Switserland, for instance, no one would bring up the risks of snow avalanches, that occasionally occur there, as a reason to move the event somewhere else. If snow avalanches sound absurd when talking about an event scheduled for a warm season in an area not prone to such danger, then so does an excuse of a short confrontation that took place hundreds of kilometers from the planned EYOC site.

  12. Anonymous writes:I am a parent of a child who may possibly get a chance to represent their country as a 16 year old for the first time in 2013. I was totally dismayed when I learnt that EYOC 2013 would be held outside Europe in Israel. The recent events show just how quickly things can flare up. It is also important to recognize that it is not just the situation wrt Gaza that is a concern but that the venue is also close to the Syrian border where there is a civil war going on. There is no reason to send children into such an environment for sport. We in Western Europe do not live in a world where everybody gets trained to use guns and fight. What Isrealis consider 'normal' security measures are quite alien to us. I applaud the EWG for making this brave decision and I am praying that they stick to it.

  13. Anonymous writes:To the concerned parent: Personal safety can be compromised in a variety of ways. Acts of war are not the only risk people are faced with. I imagine that you would not think twice before sending your son to compete in the US where almost half the households have guns. If you were following the news lately, these firearms have been misused from time to time. I heard that trains have exploded in Spain in recent years. The last I heard, the Basques still want independence. There is political unrest in the British Isles that manifests itself in occasional outbursts of terror. How about Greece? Does a violent demonstration sound appealing? Turkey? Have they moved, or do they still border Syria? Do traffic accidents due to drunk driving, that are way more prevalent in Europe, sound like safety examplified? I could go on and on, but I assume you got the idea.I have kids and I know first hand about the concern for their safety. There comes a point at which you have to either educate yourself enough on the subject, or you trust those who do. The Israeli Orienteering Association would not assume the responsibility of organizing the event if there was a valid reason against it. I do not belong to the management of the IOA, but I know the people there and they are VERY responsible people. You really should trust their judgement. If there is no travel advisory issued by your country, there is no justification for pulling out.

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