World Sailing is considering the possibility of holding a virtual Presidential election ©World Sailing

This year's World Sailing Presidential election could be held virtually if the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Abu Dhabi in November is cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

World Sailing President Kim Andersen told insidethegames a virtual election is among the options being considered as part of contingency plans being drawn up by a committee within the Federation.

Andersen, who is standing for re-election and is set to be challenged by Spanish veteran Gerardo Seeliger, said a deadline of August 1 has been set for a decision on whether the AGM can be held in Abu Dhabi on November 1 as planned. 

The AGM must take place this year under World Sailing's constitution, governed by Isle of Man law, but the event has been thrown into doubt due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Travel restrictions and bans on mass gatherings imposed across the world to combat the spread of the virus would need to be lifted in order for the annual meeting in Abu Dhabi to be held as scheduled, which is one of the other options being discussed.

World Sailing President Kim Andersen is up for re-election at this year's AGM ©World Sailing
World Sailing President Kim Andersen is up for re-election at this year's AGM ©World Sailing

Plans are being put in place to hold a virtual election, which requires a constitution change, in the event that it is not possible to stage the AGM as scheduled.

Andersen said this change would only be for the 2020 AGM, and that its potential approval did not represent the start of a shift towards virtual AGMs replacing in-person meetings.

The Dane, elected President in 2016, said the committee tasked with advising the Board on the AGM has sent out a draft resolution to Member National Associations (MNAs) for feedback.

A final resolution is set to be distributed within the next three weeks and 75 per cent of respondents need to agree to the electronic voting proposal for it to be approved.

The issue has been raised by MNAs in "town hall" meetings with World Sailing in recent weeks.

Andersen said some MNAs have also asked for a "middle ground" option - holding the AGM as planned but allowing those unable to travel to Abu Dhabi to cast their vote electronically - to be considered.

Abu Dhabi is also likely to be given the opportunity to instead host the 2021 AGM if this year's event is cancelled, a decision which requires the approval of the AGM.

International Federations have been forced to use technology to hold key meetings during the coronavirus crisis, and World Sailing could become the latest to hold the annual gathering of its membership remotely.

The International Olympic Committee announced last week it was considering staging its Session in July virtually.