Final year for Paralympic reinstatement

Published on December 15th, 2021

When the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2015 revealed that Sailing was to be removed from the Paralympic Games after Rio 2016, it was an unexpected end to a Paralympic sport which had been a staple for five consecutive Games beginning at Sydney 2000.

But that fateful decision by the IPC mobilized World Sailing to reorganize para sailing with goals of greater diversity, inclusion, affordability, development, and number of events. And with the mission to get sailing reinstated for the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympic Games, 2022 is set to be a crucial year.

“This is the year it will be decided which sports get reinstated by the International Paralympic Committee for the 2028 Los Angeles Games,” said David Graham, CEO of World Sailing. “While we are still waiting for the IPC to confirm the reinstatement process and timeline, we expect the application and declaration of intent to be requested in Q1.

“World Sailing will then have to submit our initial application package by Q2 and full application by late summer. The final decision on which sports, if any, are to be reinstated are normally announced at the IPC Annual General Meeting, which is in November.”

It certainly is not a given that any sports will be reinstated for LA28 – the Para sports for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games are the same as Tokyo 2020. However, IPC President Andrew Parsons, who was recently re-elected for a second term, has already publicly declared they are looking at ‘new sports’ and world trends.

Only 22 Para sports will be contested at the 2028 Paralympic Games and the IPC will determine the criteria sports must adhere to for reinstatement. To meet the anticipated criteria set by the IPC, World Sailing 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.

Other areas of focus are diversity, inclusion, affordability, development, and increasing the number of open and Para sailing events.

Addressing the event schedule, a total of five major Para Sailing World Championships and inclusive events will be staged in 2022 in Japan, Australia, USA and the Sultanate of Oman.

Our launch in October to get Para Sailing reinstated at LA28 resonated around the world with leading sailors, fans and organizers,” continued Graham. “The campaign was enthusiastically supported by our Member National Authorities and partners who are critical to our success.

“It is very clear that the sailing community feels strongly about getting sailing back in the Paralympic world. But the hard work is really only starting on this road, and 2022 is a crucial year.

“The number of female sailors competing at this year’s Hansa Worlds was particularly encouraging for World Sailing as it supports one of our strategic development priorities to increase female participation globally to 30% by 2023 and, ultimately, achieve gender parity.”

Over 120 sailors competed at the 2021 Hansa Worlds, representing 23 countries including Oman, Australia, China, Turkey, Greece, Chile, Lithuania, Malta and Namibia, and with a strong female line-up in both the Hansa 303 single person class (20% female) and Hansa Liberty (56% female).

In line with the Para World Sailing Strategy 2020-23 and the Federation’s Strategic Priorities, 2022 will see an increase in the number of Para Sailing Development Program (PDP) clinics in Oman, Hong Kong, USA, Singapore, South Africa, Italy and Japan (subject to in-territory global pandemic operations).

Since the creation of the PDP strategy in 2017, over 210 sailors from 39 countries, spanning 6 continents, have benefited from the learnings at these clinics.

“World Sailing has been ramping up its Para Sailing Development Programme in specific global territories to promote growth,” said Graham, noting that a strategic priority of World Sailing is to increase global participation to 45 countries on six continents by 2023.

“This is really helping sailors to hone their skills pre-competition, and enabling participating nations to grow sustainable training programs. With PDP funding provided by World Sailing we’re also helping to get Para sailors from developing countries to the start line of competitions as well as in front of the world’s best coaches.”

Also key to World Sailing’s Para Sailing strategy is affordability. The Para World Sailing Committee, alongside the Equipment Committee, have developed a series of cost-effective adaptations for Para Sailing equipment to existing Member National Association fleets which dramatically reduces cost and increases inclusivity around the world.

Massimo Dighe, World Sailing Para World Sailing Manager, will continue developing partnerships with the classes to provide charter boats at events and increase opportunities for everyone to participate. “Our global partnership with GAC Pindar, which now extends to the end of December 2028, will help to move charter boats around the world and help countries to ship equipment cost-effectively to events.”

The key to all sports in the Paralympic program is that they are representative of society as a whole. “We feel sailing is fully representative and, more importantly, fully inclusive,” said Graham.

“Our Para sailors also represent one of the broadest ranges of physical and sensory abilities that exists in global sport. Recognizing and embracing disabilities outside the Paralympic sphere is not only important to growth and participation worldwide, but also inclusion into mainstream sailing.”

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