Response from IDBF President, Mike Haslam
|"Alvin Wang" <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
This is a letter from the IDBF President, Mike Haslam. It has
of info about events in far off corners of the the DB world that I
didn't know. The letter from Bevin that he refers to is a gentleman
from Canada that disagreed with my feeling about the canoe groups not
helping. He declined to have his email published.
FROM MIKE HASLAM - IDBF Executive President
Dear Sports Friends,
What a wonderful medium for passing information (and misinformation)
the WWW is and, as with all new technologies, used to the full by the
North American community, whilst we old world people slowly get to
catch up. Therefore please excuse me if I get the conventions of email discussions wrong.
I read with interest Alvin's comments and thoughts on the situation
viz a vee Dragon Boating and Canoeing and also the IDBF/ICF and IOC
relationships. I was also very interested in the reply from Bevin and
so I thought that I might join the discussion, in an informal way and
perhaps help to put things a little more into perspective.
There are, as always, more than one aspect of the present situation
but in essence it revolves around the two levels of operation, that
is, National and International and three areas of control, that is
concerning the sports development, organisation and finally representation.
Nationally, dragon boat racing presently operates through a variety
of different types of organisation, dependant on the stage of
development the sport has reached in a particular country and the kind of people
who got involved in developing the sport in the first place. This
varies from fully fledged autonomous National Dragon Boat Groups,
recognised by their government agencies as governing bodies of sport,
with their own Coaching Schemes, Officials Training Schemes, National
Training Squads and local and National Regattas for serious sport
dragon boat racers, designated as Sport Races by the IDBF. Examples
the Chinese, Singapore, British, Italian, DBAs - through to just one
Dragon Boat Festival Organiser, running an annual dragon
boat race series, primarily for novice and fun crews, in a particular
country, example Austria. The IDBF designates such events as Festival Races.
In between are countries who are moving from the Festival Based
organisations to pure Sport Racing and in so doing are developing
National Governing Bodies for the sport. As the NGBs develop then the
question of ongoing organisation, development and control inside the
sport and representation outwards for the sport comes to the fore.
Also the question of how to find a working balance between the
festival organisers and the sport racers has to be answered.
Inevitably, there are casualties along the way especially when the
first generation of festival based people and casual participants
give way to the serious sports competitors, who want the best of every thing.
The mix of people involved in Dragon Boating also varies from the
very strong traditional countries of the Far East, where many consider the
canoe, for example, to be a one man dragon boat, recently arrived
from Europe without any traditions (less that 60 years of real competitive
use as a sport, set against at least 2000 years of festival Dragon
Boat Racing) to those in the Western world who see the Dragon Boat as
a 20 man canoe very recently arrived as a sport from Hong Kong (1976),
and who completely miss, or fail to understand, the traditions and
the culture associated with the boat and the very real importance of the
dragon boat festival to a very large part of the worlds population.
Over the past 20 years those of us from the west, who went to Hong
Kong and saw what traditional festival racing was, understood its
ethos and returned home to develop the sport of dragon boat racing
before exporting it back to the far east and the wider world, mainly
came from Canoe Racing (like myself - Director of the 1981 Sprint
World Championships and GB Team Manger in the1980s) or Rowing. We
developed the modern sport of dragon boat racing along similar lines
to our base sports and trod a very similar path to that taken by
Canada, with Sprint Racing input from both Officials and
Competitors. However, as sport racing developed serious dragon boat
paddlers and officials emerged and the majority of the casual Sprint
Racers, understandably, returned to canoeing to concentrate on their first sport.
The end results varied, in some places (as mentioned above)
autonomous DBAs were established, in some countries the Canoe Associations
formed DBAs within the Canoe Associations (for example Sweden and Norway) in
others combined Canoeing & Rowing Federations also started Dragon
Boat Sections (for example Indonesia and the Philippines) and in yet others
the Rowing Federation took on DBR as well (for example Bangladesh and Myanmar).
Internationally the festival and sport racing scene has developed too
as crews from the developing countries have looked for more
competitions overseas and as a result the countries participating
internationally formed the IDBF and its Continental Federations for
Europe and Asia, with Regional Federations in North America and Australasia.
This general development accelerated rapidly with the formation of the
IDBF etc and sport racing is now very well established with World and
Continental championships at both National Team and Club Crew level
and an international circuit of both festival and sport racing taking
place around the world in over 40 countries. Global participation
figures of over 50 million annually are the norm. All of this
activity has taken place without the influence or involvement of the
ICF at international level, and with the involvement of but a very few
canoe associations at national level. Those canoe associations that
are involved have all joined the IDBF to pursue their international
competition and the IDBF welcomes them.
As the sport came of age, in the mid 1990s, the quest for IOC
recognition as a sport and future possible participation in the
Olympic Games began. Talks have taken place at various levels over
the past few years with officials from the IOC, who were quick to
realize the sponsorship, media and spectator potential of the sport of
dragon boat racing.
So everyone in the sport was very happy with life and then quite out
of the clear blue skies in April 1999 the IDBF learnt that the ICF
Board of Directors had declared that dragon boating was now a
discipline of canoeing. Since that time, there has been three
meetings with the ICF to try and find ways to work together as partner
sports. The IDBF Membership has made it very clear, to the ICF, that
there is no question of them wanting the ICF to take over from the
IDBF or any desire by existing IDBF DBAs to become part of or be
arbitrarily taken over by, ICF National Canoe Associations.
There is general agreement that neither international federation wants
to get into a fight over the control of dragon boating but the ICF has
stated that it would like to be the international federation that
represents all paddle sports at IOC level, because as an established
olympic IF, it feels that it can have more influence on the olympic
movement, than a number of separate paddle sport IFs could. It is
also unlikely that the ICF Board will become involved in the
organisation of dragon boating unless its member national
canoe associations vote to form an ICF Specialist Committee for dragon
boating at the next ICF Congress in November 2000. It is understood
that 9 ICF Members will (or have) put forward such a proposal for the
Congress to consider.
The IDBF, of course, would not want this to happen as it feels that
having two IFs trying to organise one sport is not in anyone's
interest. The IDBF view is that any organisation that wants to become
involved in the sport at international level should do so through the
IDBF and its continental federations etc and our Statutes allow other
sports bodies such as Rowing & Canoe associations to become IDBF
members. So what is the point in ICF members trying to reinvent the
wheel by doing their own dragon boat thing.
As regards the representation of the sport with the IOC, the IDBF is
open to discussion on this point, and also on the question of joint
events with the ICF at international and world level.
Following the meeting held on the 12 May 00 with the ICF, the IDBF
will be putting some ideas on paper about these issues, in the hope
that we can reach an agreement with the ICF Board (or at least
establish some principles) over the organisation and future
representation of the sport, with other international organisations,
before the ICF holds its Congress in November.
I am sorry if this email has become rather lengthy but I felt that you
may be interested in the 'bigger' picture regarding the sport and the
situation regarding the IDBF/ICF and all that. You are not alone in
the problems you face in developing the sport at national level and it
is nice to see that the dragon boaters and sprint racers are working
together for the greater benefit of the sport as a whole.
Yours in sport,
IDBF Executive President
Feel free to forward this to your Dragon Boat friends. If you want
to receive your own copy and be eligible to vote in polls.
Send an email to email@example.com
For an unmoderated free discussion on Dragon Boats, send email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. You can ask questions of
some of the top Dragon Boat experts in the World.
For all your Dragon Boat information:
Mike Haslam wrote an "information paper" entitled "The Spirit of Qu Yuen" (24 September 1999 with cover letter ) which gives a detailed background of the onset of the misunderstanding and then the unileteral declaration made by the Board of Directors of the ICF.It can be obtained by email (MikeHaslam@aol.com) or from IDBF (www.dragonboat.com) or from your local dragonboat or canoeing government bodies.
Alvin's View as an paddler 2002/8