(ATR) A new president will lead World Sailing for the next four years. Li Quanhai of China defeated Kim Andersen of Denmark in voting at the close of a virtual general assembly Nov. 1.
"Our responsibility is to put our sailors in first place," Li said in his comments to a meeting of the newly elected board of directors. At the same time he cautioned that internal financial pressures at the federation need to be solved.
Li was one of four candidates in the first round of voting conducted in October that ended with no candidate receiving a 50 percent majority. Andersen was the top finisher with 53 votes, Li second with 38.
But the tables turned in the second round of voting with Li winning 68 votes to 60 for Andersen, who was running for a second term.
Andersen faced criticism for backing a move of the federation headquarters from Southhampton, England to central London. The federation is now trying to sublet the space and move to cheaper space. Concerns have been raised about other administrative expenses.
Along with financial worriesand the impact of the coronavirus that has affected all the Summer Olympic international federations with postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021, Li acknowledged World Sailing will face the challenge of sailing "upwind" in the coming year.
"It will be very hard," he warned. He compared the newly elected federation board to crew members on a boat, urging the members "sail the boat in a team spirit".
"We don’t want to capsize the boat," Li said.
"Our most important responsibility is to solve the enormous financial situation world sailing is facing. We look forward to the Tokyo Olympic Games as scheduled otherwise World Sailing will be in challenging times," Li said about the postponed Olympics.
Li said he will establish "strong relations with the IOC" noting that decisions on the sport and the 2024 Olympics in Paris are coming before the IOC in December.
He says World Sailing will work to boost sailing for the disabled, currently not on the program for the 2024 Paralympics.
Li also called for World Sailing to bring more women into the sport.
Reported by Ed Hula.