Help reinstate sailing as a sport in the 2020 Paralympic Games
The sport of sailing had a disappointing start to 2015. On the 31st January the International Paralympic Committee set out the sports that would take place in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games – and very noticeably, sailing wasn't one of them. There has been a huge outcry about this, with leading sailors and marine organisations now working hard to have sailing reinstated as for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
A wide reaching campaign started by Will Matthews has gained over 15,000 signatures in a matter of days. Meanwhile 48-year-old Geoff Holt, the first quadriplegic to sail solo around Britain, has launched a Facebook page calling on the IPC to reconsider their decision – over 10,000 likes have been clocked up already. It’s hoped that this kind of pressure on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will encourage them to overturn their decision.
Geoff said in a YouTube video: “The prospect of it (sailing) not being included in 2020 is heartbreaking. Not just for me and for those that have been involved over the years but for the sailors and their families. Whatever has been said or not said, it’s simply not made the case enough for sailing and this isn’t good enough.”
Outcry from the sailing community
A total of 24 sports were eligible to apply for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, with a maximum of 23 to be included. However, sailing and 7-a-side football failed to make the programme, as they “did not fulfil the IPC handbook’s minimum criteria for worldwide reach”.
The decision has caused an outcry from sailors across the world and organisations such as the RYA, British Marine Federation and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).
In a statement the RYA said: “This is hugely disappointing news for the sport of disabled sailing worldwide, for British Sailing Team athletes who are already working hard towards Tokyo, and is a loss to the Paralympic Games itself as sailing provides a unique element to the sporting programme.”
ISAF has assured sailors that “every effort will be made to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games”.
The British Marine Federation said in a recent statement: “Olympics and Paralympics have provided a successful platform for showcasing British talent and increasing participation. Following sailing success at the 2012 London Games the UK witnessed a 10% increase in the number of people taking up sailing. The BMF is very concerned at the loss of such a powerful tool for raising the profile of British sailing and other boating activities. In addition it is disappointed at the loss of such a unique platform for inspiring those with disabilities to take up the sport of sailing.
Therefore the BMF offers its support to the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and other national organisations in their discussions to seek further recourse.”
There are countless reasons why sailing Sailing is so widely participated in, and it's clear that the sport offers real physical, technical and tactical challenges for participants. Team GBR won the first ever Paralympic Sailing Gold Medal in 1996 and there are many dedicated, talented sailors hoping to continue taking part in Paralympic Sailing.
There is a chance that sailing could be reinstated, as there’s one space left for a sport in the 2020 games. If you feel passionately that Paralympic Sailing deserves to be included you can make visit the Facebook page here: http://goo.gl/QYX8YS
…and sign the petition here:
Article: Alison Clements