ISAF to challenge IPC Decision on Paralympic Games Programme

Published on February 10th, 2015

When the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on January 31 that sailing would not be included as a sport for the 2020 Paralympic Games, by all accounts the news was not anticipated.

The International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) was solely and independently responsible for coordinating the Paralympic sailing competition with the IPC, but in November 2014, the IFDS merged with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), and now operates within the ISAF committee structure as the Disabled Sailing Committee.

However, the bulk of work in submitting sailing as a sport for the 2020 Games occurred before the merger, and it appears now that the IFDS failed to mention to ISAF that their submission for the 2020 Games was not going so well.

The Paralympic Games is the ultimate pinnacle for disabled sailors with many varied disabilities competing on equal terms. However, the IPC has requirements for sports to be included, and it is these requirements that either weren’t met, or weren’t being adequately presented.

Caught flat footed, ISAF is now actively making every effort to understand the decision of the IPC and work towards reinstating sailing as a sport in the Paralympic Games.

To assist in this effort, ISAF is asking sailors across the world to unite on behalf of all disabled sailors and submit letters of support. These letters will be sent to the IPC along with a complete package of information about Paralympic sailing. Send letters to disabled@isaf.com

On hearing the decision of the IPC, three time Paralympian (2.4mR) and gold medallist at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Bjornar Erikstad commented, “For the Paralympic Games, sailing should be there. In sailing you can be young, old, female, male and be on an equal playing field. It’s about understanding the environment and what’s around you that makes it unique. It has physical challenges and you have to be physically and mentally prepared.”

In 2008, American sailor Nick Scandone was battling ALS (commonly known as Lou Gerig’s Disease). Before being diagnosed, Scandone was a top 470 sailor and made the switch to Paralympic sailing. In the lead up to the 2008 Paralympic Games his condition deteriorated but his quest to sail kept him pushing hard. With crew Maureen McKinnon-Tucker, Scandone went on to win the Gold Medal, an extraordinary accomplishment. Sadly Scandone passed away a few months later. His heroic feat drew huge attention to people with the disease.

On the recently launched Facebook page Reinstate Paralympic Sailing into 2020 Games, a preliminary scorecard IPC used to evaluate the sport of sailing was posted, which notes the shortcomings of the submission by the IFDS. This apparently was not, however, the final scorecard used to eliminate sailing from the 2020 Paralympic Games. See below…

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