Full effort to reinstate sailing in Paralympic Games

Published on February 4th, 2015

The disabled sailing community was rocked on January 31, 2015 when the International Paralympic Committee announced the 22 sports for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and that sailing would not be one of them. This, by all accounts, came as a significant surprise to both administrators and sailors.

Sailing was first introduced at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games as a demonstrative sport, using the triplehanded Sonar, and then became a medal sport at the Sydney 2000 Games. The singlehanded 2.4mR and doublehanded SKUD 18 were added for the Qingdao 2008 Games, with all three non-gender specific events held at London 2012 Games and planned for Rio 2016 Games.

The International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) had long been an affiliate member of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), and was solely and independently responsible for coordinating the Paralympic sailing competition with the International Paralympic Committee.

However, a merger was completed at the 2014 ISAF Annual Conference in November, bringing the IFDS (now called the ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee) under the roof of ISAF to create a single governing body for MNAs and sailors to better serve the needs and interests of sailors with disabilities.

But it was a year before the merger that IFDS made the submission to maintain sailing in the 2020 Paralympic Games, and it was on this basis that sailing ultimately did not get approved. A statement from the IFDS was released on February 4, 2015…
The ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee (IFDS) is profoundly disappointed by the decision of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to exclude sailing from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

IFDS responded in a timely and comprehensive manner to queries from IPC, with details of sailors that participate regularly in international regattas or national championships, on Paralympic boats.

IFDS ensures an extensive quadrennial program of international competitions replicating the Olympic Program organized by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), including ISAF Sailing World Cup. IFDS sanctions and organizes yearly Combined World Championships in the Paralympic classes.

Development has resulted in the regular addition of new countries to competitive sailing. The process of merging with ISAF (with a membership of 139 Member National Authorities) was completed in November of 2014, with the main aim of opening a whole new field for the development of disabled sailing. During the period of pre-merging, ISAF always respected the independence of IFDS decisions. Through ISAF’s development programmes, worldwide participation initiatives and event structure, the opportunities for disabled sailing are better than ever before.

IFDS fully appreciates how devastated all the stakeholders are by IPC’s decision, be they sailors, coaches, sponsors, National Sailing or Paralympic Authorities.

Now ISAF will promptly address any items identified by the IPC in a bid to reinstate sailing back into the Paralympic Games as soon as possible.
The IPC is now on the defensive to support their decision to remove sailing, and have provided the timeline in how the IPC Governing Board made its ruling. See below…

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