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The board of directors of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has issued an update regarding the selection process for host cities for world championship events.

In September 2017, the SCA said it would conduct a review of the decision by World Coffee Events (WCE) to select Dubai as one of three host cities for 2018 world championships. The decision drew considerable criticism because from the LGBTQ community.

In a statement, the SCA said: “The WCE has since its inception been solely responsible for selecting the locations for its events. Over the past few weeks, the SCA board of directors and the review panel have engaged in passionate and difficult conversations around inclusivity and the safety of world championship competitors.

“The discussions in which we have engaged have centred on specific concerns of the LGBTQ community and have surfaced broader questions around a full spectrum of barriers that exist for international competitors to participate in many of the regions that host our events.

After what it described as “much consultation and discussion” with our membership community and WCE, the SCA board has adopted a ‘deferred candidacy’ policy.

“This policy is designed to protect competitors who may be prevented from participating in a world championship event due to nationality, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity/orientation, health, bereavement, or force majeure,” SCA said.

“We have committed to holding competitions in China, Brazil, Dubai, and other countries around the world. In every case, one or more national competitors may be limited or prohibited from participation.

“Today, we recognize the full spectrum of limitations that may exist for competitors and vow to honour the opportunity that each competitor has earned to represent their country at the international level.

“The resolution we on the SCA board have adopted is designed to acknowledge and respect a competitor’s inability to travel to a country while enabling them to keep their hard-earned opportunity to compete.

“Under the new policy, national champions who have a qualifying circumstance that limits or prohibits them from participating may request to defer their world championship candidacy to the following year.

“National bodies whose candidate’s deferment request is approved by the world championships committee of the WCE Events Advisory Council will be supported by a subsidy to cover additional travel expenses, should they occur.”

The new policy takes effect immediately, beginning with the world championships taking place in Seoul this November and covering all upcoming WCE events listed below. Planning for the world championship events taking place in Dubai in 2018 will now resume with this new policy in place.

“In addition to the new policy, we will assemble an ad hoc committee of elected leadership to create a process to vet future site selection, host partners, title sponsors, and other key partners in the creation and execution of WCE and SCA activities and events. During this process, we will seek input from experts and members of the specialty coffee community. More information on the new policy will be available by the end of 2017.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to members of the specialty coffee community who have provided feedback during this review process. We know this undertaking has been difficult and emotional for everyone involved, and we recognize that this policy is not perfect, but we remain resolute in our mission to continue listening to our membership and to make our organization inclusive of all.”

The policy was quickly condemned by numerous groups and Sprudge Media Network immediately resigned from a media partnership with the SCA and World Coffee Events.

For more information see the forthcoming January 2017 issue of Coffee & Cocoa International.

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