By Wayne Mills, N7NG
The recent episode involving Latvian hams trying to visit and operate from Mt. Athos highlights a situation which has existed for 25 years, namely that it has been virtually impossible for anyone but Elder Apollo to operate from this artificially rare DXCC location. Apparently the Latvians had verbal permission, but in the end nothing written was forthcoming…
According to the SV2ASP/A QRZ.com web page, Ham Radio was initiated following an incident as a means of communications ‘when all else failed,’ but interestingly, according to Elder Apollo (on this same page) “[Ham Radio] remains in order to keep Mount Athos at the height it deserves in terms of DXing, [and] also to prevent its removal from the DXCC list.” A curious if not astonishing motivation indeed.
Mt. Athos remains on the DXCC list according to the current rules, and rules can change; the rules are not chiseled in stone. The door to changes was open in the late nineties. Only a proper procedure should alter DXCC’s path, but make no mistake, public opinion can lead to rule changes given sufficient cause.
Mt. Athos was added to the DXCC list in 1973 as a “distinctively separate administration.” Other entities added under this rule include Kingman Reef. While the separate administration rule is gone – its premise, first distorted and then discredited – these entities remain under current rules which require that entities remain as long as they continue to meet the criteria under which they were added. In reality, they remain on the list for reasons of nostalgia. It’s difficult to take any entities away from DXers. Those who benefit from the presence of Mount Athos on the DXCC list should understand that there is absolutely no reason why totally impractical entities must remain on the list. It is simply a matter of will – and public opinion.
There are ways to change the status of Mt. Athos. That Mt. Athos is altogether too inactive –that it is too high on the most needed list – is not a reason to remove it from the entities list. It is very important to follow the current, relevant DXCC rules, and inactivity should never be a criteria for removing a DXCC entity. Yet inactivity could eventually provide motivation to change the rules.
In the mid-nineties, a “Blue Ribbon Committee” was created by the ARRL Board — the so-called DXCC-2000 Committee. This committee comprised ten superbly qualified people, Board members, staff members, DXAC members and others, each experienced in DXCC history and procedure. The composition of the committee was varied and the results it produced were comprehensive. Its wide-ranging charge was to rewrite the DXCC rules as necessary. The results were accepted by the ARRL Board with relatively little discussion and few changes. Such a committee could and perhaps should be constituted again. There is still cause for making important changes. What is required is creativity and leadership.
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