World Sailing, the international federation for the sport of sailing recognised by the International Olympic Committee, has kick-started their campaign for sailing to be reinstated at the Paralympic Games in Los Angeles (USA) in 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.”
The growth of Para sailing today is increasing at an unprecedented pace: “Over the past five years, the number of nations with Para sailors participating in international Para sailing competitions has increased by 30 pr cent,” said David. “Our international Para sailing athletes are some of the most accomplished sailors in the world who are inspiring the next generation.”
At the recent Hansa World Championships (2 – 9 October) 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. Recognising 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,” said 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 has yet to confirm the bid process for LA28, however 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,” said 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.”
The 2028 Summer Paralympic Games, known as LA28, will be the first held in the United States since 1996 when Para sailing made its debut at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport. Para sailing was a successful Paralympic sport for five consecutive Games from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016.
Hannah Stodel, born missing her lower right arm, is a four-time Paralympian and said: “For me, sailing deserves to be back in the Paralympics – it is truly an inclusive sport that allows anyone to leave their disability on the dock and experience freedom. There is no greater privilege than representing your country at the Paralympic Games, and I will keep fighting to see those opportunities back for the young sailors coming up through the ranks.”
In 2015, it was announced that Para sailing was being dropped 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.
World Sailing submitted a strong reinstatement bid for Paris 2024, but this was rejected. The IPC made the decision that the Paris 2024 program would remain unchanged from Tokyo with 22 sporting disciplines.
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.