Pursuing inclusion for 2028 Paralympics
Published on October 26th, 2021
World Sailing has officially kick-started their campaign for sailing to be reinstated at the Paralympic Games in Los Angeles (USA) in 2028.
After Para sailing made its debut at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport, it had been a Paralympic sport for five consecutive Games from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016.
But the axe fell in 2015 when the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) dropped sailing from Tokyo 2020, along with seven-a-side football, in favor of badminton and taekwondo. A total of 22 sports were contested at the Paralympics in Tokyo.
Para sailing had been under the authority of the International Sailing Federation Disabled Sailing Committee (IFDS) which was responsible for coordinating the Paralympic sailing competition with the IPC. Since then, the authority has shifted to World Sailing (then called International Sailing Federation; ISAF) with a focus on righting the wrongs of the past leadership.
While excluded from Tokyo 2020, there was optimism the reorganization of para sailing and heightened participation had met or exceeded the IPC requirements for sailing to be reinstated for Paris 2024, but the IPC opted to continue with the same 22 sports from Tokyo.
World Sailing is now further strengthening its commitment to seeing Para sailing reinstated to not only meet but exceed the criteria set by the IPC. With the target now on Los Angeles 2028, the governing body has outlined a set of strategic priorities to support the growth of the sport by 2023:
• Increase worldwide participation to 45 nations on 6 continents.
• Increase youth participation (below the age of 30) to 20% of total athletes.
• Grow the number of female participants to 30% and, ultimately, to achieve gender parity.
Focusing on diversity, inclusion, affordability, development, and increasing the number of open and Para sailing events are all part of World Sailing’s framework to build on the success of Para sailing.
“We know that other major sports looking for reinstatement are already drawing up their bid plans,” said David Graham, CEO of World Sailing. “We know that IPC President, Andrew Parsons, has already publicly declared that the IPC will be looking at potential ‘new sports’ following the successful introduction of new, youth-focused sports at Tokyo 2020. We are on track to achieve our strategic priorities by 2023 and we are taking nothing for granted.
“Over the past five years, the number of nations with Para sailors participating in international Para sailing competitions has increased by 30%. Our international Para sailing athletes are some of the most accomplished sailors in the world who are inspiring the next generation.”
At the 2021 Hansa World Championships (October 2-9), 181 Para sailors representing 23 nations from 6 continents including Asia and Africa, took part.
World Sailing believes it is important to broaden the range of physical, sensory and intellectual disability types that participate in sailing. Recognizing and embracing disabilities outside the Paralympic sphere is not only important to growth and participation worldwide but also inclusion into mainstream sailing.
“World Sailing and our global sailing community does not make the distinction between athletes who are able-bodied and those who are not – we all compete together, with the same rules. What really matters is personal skill,” commented Spanish Para sailor Gabriel Barroso de María. “Sailing’s inclusiveness really stands out as a powerful lesson for our entire society: equality is possible on the water, and should be everywhere else.
“In a landscape of Para sports that feel more and more exclusive to me, and many others, with quadriplegia and minimal finger dexterity sailing is different – I can start any race and be competitive.”
As the popularity of the sport continues to build around the globe, World Sailing is looking for reinstatement of Para sailing at the Paralympic Games after its bid for Paris 2024 reinstatement failed.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has yet to confirm the bid process for LA28, but World Sailing is proactively launching its campaign to galvanize support and build on the growth of Para sailing:
“It is a critical task of World Sailing to reinstate Para sailing in the Paralympics,” stated Quanhai Li, President of World Sailing. “We must pro-actively coordinate with the International Paralympic Committee to further understand the entry standards and requirements, and I am in direct contact with the IPC President on this matter as we continue our work towards reinstatement at the Los Angeles Games in 2028.”
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• 750 para sailors are registered with World Sailing
• 15% of registered para sailors are under the age of 30
• 20% of registered para sailors are female
IPC Bidding Process:
The process of sports bidding to be included in the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games is expected to follow the process of previous Paralympic Games – this is yet to be confirmed by the International Paralympic Committee.
If the International Paralympic Committee follows the same four-step process as Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, the 2028 process would be:
• Step 1: Application (Q4 2021)
• Step 2: IPC Review & request for Declaration of Intent (Q1 2022)
• Step 3: Los Angeles 2028 Application Package distributed (Q1 2022)
• Step 4: Full proposal to be delivered (May 2022)
The current LA Games plans to stage 28 Olympic sports and 22 Paralympic sports.
Source: World Sailing, Scuttlebutt