03 Jun 2005

The 2 year rule

The current situation is that every pilot entering an international competition (FAI Category 1 or 2) must show his Sporting Licence. The country issuing the Licence is considered to be the country that pilot is flying for in Category 1 events. If a pilot wants to fly for another country, he will have to observe a 2 calendar year delay without flying in any Category 1 events before he can switch his allegiance. However he can fly in Category 2 events during this period. This is why…… The 2 year rule is written into the FAI General Section. 

  • • A citizen of a country may be issued with a FAI Sporting Licence to represent the NAC of that country in First Category sporting events, and to participate in Second Category sporting events, and in other FAI activities such as record attempts - except that if a person has multiple nationality, he (or she) shall not have represented a different NAC in any FAI airsport activities during the two entire calendar years preceding the event concerned. • A resident of a country who is not a citizen of that country may be issued a sporting licence to represent the NAC of his country of residence: a) In Second Category international sporting events; b) In First Category events, provided he has been a resident of that country during the two calendar years preceding the event concerned, and he did not represent a different NAC in any FAI First Category airsport activity during that period. 

Why this rule? In the past (in many aviation sports, not just in hang gliding or paragliding) some countries would enrol their pilots into World championships by entering them on the team of other small countries. The small countries benefited from having their standings bettered, and the pilot got to attend the world meet with possible personal gain if he or she did well. This practice escalated to the point of abuse and had to be stopped or there was no sense in having World meets. It was grossly unfair for a country to beat another country because they included experienced pilots from somewhere else on their team. The best way to prevent this abuse was deemed to be to require that a pilot must be a resident of a country for two years before he can switch his or her allegiance. The time factor was a compromise. Too short and it would be easy to switch countries within the time period which most teams use to select their teams and between First Category events. Too long and no one could easily keep up their skills when having to move to another country. Until 2006 the "punishment period" for switching nationalities was 3 years and pilots were not permitted to compete in either First or Second Category events during this period; CIVL proposed the changes which resulted in the exclusion of Second Category events and the reduction of the "punishment period" to just 2 years, thus recognising that in the modern world sportsmen, like others, move between countries much more frequently than when the FAI rules were first introduced. CIVL has no choice but to enforce this much improved 2 year rule. It is well known that there have been cases in the past of pilots entering meets when they did not qualify from their country, or pilots flying for different countries at successive meets. Although the Sporting Licences can be easily checked during Category 1 competition by the Steward or Jury members, CIVL has no guarantee that Category 2 competition organisers will check those licences, as required.