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TEAM USA Walks Away From Saudi Event

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  • TEAM USA Walks Away From Saudi Event

    The American Magic sailing team is refusing to participate in the second Preliminary America's Cup Regatta in Saudi Arabia citing security concerns.

    The regatta is scheduled to be held in Jeddah from 30 November to 3 December.

    However, the New York Yacht Club has decided not to participate believing they are at a heightened risk for terrorist attacks.

    In an application to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel, the club argues genuine safety concern is increased due to relationships, between Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries such as Iran, Yemen and Sudan.

    General Counsel for American Magic Luis Saenz Mariscal cited recent terrorist attacks including a bomb-laden boat attacking an oil tanker anchored at Jeddah's port and a missile strike which halted F1 practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

    "Further, the attacks in Jeddah by the Houthi other Islamic based violence provoke an even greater safety concern. The safety concern in Jeddah is genuine and particularly high for any prominent USA presence or American interest."

    Mariscal said the racing in the America's Cup is not in an enclosed or controlled environment such as a circuit, a golf course, or a stadium.

    American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson after defeat in the America's Cup Challenger Selection Series semi-finals.Photo: Studio Borlenghi
    "The sea is open and any boat may succeed in entering the race course without great difficulty by sheer speed and manoeuvring."

    He said it is impossible for NYYC or American Magic to ensure the security and safety of its team.

    The club noted the US Department of State's travel advisory to Saudi Arabia which urges to reconsider travel to Saudi Arabia due to the threat of missile and drone attacks on civilian facilities.

    American Magic Commodore Paul Zabetakis said objections to race in Jeddah were repeatedly conveyed to officials.

    "A regatta with the title "America's Cup" taking place off the waters of Jeddah has certain risks for all competitors. However, these risks are unacceptably higher for a team named "American Magic" registered and flying a US flag-themed mainsail. I am not prepared to violate my oath and place our team in harms-way."

    Saudi Arabia has boosted it's involvement in sports in recent years and holds a Formula One Grand Prix along with other high profile events including boxing and football.
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