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Sailing dropped from Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

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The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced last week that it planned to drop sailing as a sanctioned sport in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The games for handicapped athletes run Aug. 25-Sept. 6, 2020, and will feature 22 sports, though a maximum of 23 could be allowed. The other water sports included are canoe, rowing and swimming. Both one person multihull sailing and blind match racing sailing were excluded.

“To reach this decision, the IPC undertook the most extensive and rigorous review process ever of all the sports, which started in November 2013,” IPC President Sir Philip Craven said in a statement after the Jan. 31 decision. “All were assessed against the same criteria and our aim all along has been to ensure that the final Tokyo 2020 paralympic sports program is fresh and features the best para-sports possible.

“The board’s final decision was not an easy one and, after much debate, we decided not to include two sports – football 7-a-side and sailing – from the Tokyo 2020 program for the same reason: Both did not fulfil the IPC handbook’s minimum criteria for worldwide reach.”

The IPC Handbook states only team sports widely and regularly practiced in a minimum of 24 countries and three IPC regions will be considered for inclusion in the games. For individual sports, they must be practiced in a minimum of 32 countries in three IPC regions.

A final decision on the medal events program will not be made until 2017. More than 13,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate the sport. Read it here:

https://www.change.org/p/international-paralympic-committee-reinstatesailing-for-the-2020-paralympics

and visit https://www.facebook.com/ReinstateParalympicSailing2020?fref=ts

At London 2012, the games involved a record 4,237 athletes from 164 countries who took part in 503 medal events across 20 sports. A cumulated global audience of 3.8 billion watched the games, whilst 2.78 million tickets were sold, making the Paralympics the third-biggest sporting event in the world behind the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. Sailing has appeared in the past five paralympic games.

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) reported the news and said it was “extremely disappointed.”

“At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 23 nations from four continents were represented across the three paralympic events,” according to a statement from the ISAF. Every effort will be made to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games.”

Tom Hubbell, president of US Sailing, the national governing body for sailing, issued this statement: “Yesterday’s 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.”

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Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton.

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