National authorities react to removal of sailing from Paralympic Games

Published on February 1st, 2015

Following the decision by the International Paralympic Committee to remove sailing as a sport at the 2020 Paralympic Games, here is the reaction from several national governing bodies for sailing…

Sail Canada (CAN): The recent news regarding the International Paralympic Committee’s decision to exclude sailing from the 2020 Paralympic Games is a devastating blow for the sport of sailing worldwide. For Canadian sailors campaigning towards 2020 and beyond, this news is extremely disappointing and creates a major setback in direction for these aspiring Paralympic athletes.

Discussion will ensue with the ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee in an effort to determine if there are any further appeal opportunities. Sail Canada will collaborate with the IFDS (International Association For Disabled Sailing) in their efforts to ensure the future of Paralympic sailing.

US Sailing (USA): “The news about Paralympic sailing being dropped from the slate of sports at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is highly disappointing. Our sport attracts a diverse group of disabled athletes across the world, as demonstrated by the three fleets of sailors from 14 countries competing in Miami last week at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. US Sailing will join ISAF, IFDS and the national governing bodies of our fellow Paralympic sailing nations to lead an appeal of this decision in the fight for reinstatement of Paralympic sailing at the Tokyo 2020 Games.” – Tom Hubbell, President of US Sailing

Royal Yachting Association (GBR): 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.

We will be discussing with ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee as to how we might support them if there is any further recourse to be had, as we understand that there are currently only 22 out of a maximum possible 23 sports on the programme for Tokyo 2020.

In the meantime we’ll be doing all we can to get our teams on the podium for Rio 2016.

Yachting Australia (AUS): The news is an enormous disappointment for the sport of disabled sailing worldwide and for the Australian Sailing Team and Squad athletes who are working hard, not only towards Rio 2016, but also towards Tokyo 2020.

Yachting Australia President Matt Allen said, “The decision to take sailing out of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has left us stunned. We will consult with our ISAF colleagues to support the case for sailing and for all avenues to be explored for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and beyond. We have spoken with the Australian Paralympic Committee who have offered their support and sought clarity on the decision from the International Paralympic Committee.”

This is a loss to Paralympic sport as a whole as sailing provides unique opportunities for athletes with a disability to get involved with and participate in high performance sport and to compete on a world-class and paralympic level. Para-sailing caters for athletes with a wide range of physical impairments including those with high level disabilities such as quadriplegia, allowing sailors to steer and control boats using just a finger, toe or breath.

Australian Paralympic Committee President Glenn Tasker said: “Like our Yachting Australia and Australian Sailing Team colleagues, we are worried that this decision will have serious implications for the sport at all levels. But the APC remains fully committed to the Australian Paralympic program and its athletes, and we are currently seeking more details from the International Paralympic Committee to gain a greater understanding of the avenues which may exist for the sport to be reintroduced in 2020 or at a later date.”

Australian Sailing has already qualified all Paralympic boats for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and only on the weekend, Paralympic gold medallists and IFDS World Champions Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch won their second consecutive gold medal at the Sailing World Cup in Miami.

“I, like the rest of the sailing community, was completely stunned by the news that sailing has been excluded from the 2020 Paralympic Games,” Paralympic silver (2008) and gold medallist (2012) Daniel Fitzgibbon said from Miami. “I have already visited Tokyo and inspected the sailing venue as have we invested considerable time and money in assets to be used for these games, so to say it took me by surprise would be an understatement.”

“Sailing is the only Paralympic sport that allows quadriplegics, such as myself, to compete against much more able athletes on an even and fair platform,” Fitzgibbon continued. “And to take this opportunity away from future athletes in my situation, or worse, is a very disappointing decision.”

Yachting Australia will be discussing the situation with ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee as well as with the Australian Paralympic Committee over the upcoming weeks. In the meantime we will continue to work diligently with our Paralympic athletes, supporting them towards the IFDS World Championships at the end of the year in Melbourne as well as on their road to Rio 2016.

Comment from the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the world governing body for the sport of sailing:
ISAF is extremely disappointed to receive this news from the International Paralympic Committee. Sailing adds a unique element to Paralympic sport through open events that include athletes with a broad range of disabilities. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 23 nations from four continents were represented across the three Paralympic events. Every effort will be made to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games.









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