Among the organizations effected by the decision to cut sailing from the Paralympic program for the 2020 Games was the Czech Sailing Association and disability sailors involved with the organization. The loss of Paralympic status impacts the organization’s funding, its ability to find sponsors, and in attracting new sailors to the sport domestically. Like other MNAs, the Czech Sailing Association has sent a letter of support to the International Paralympic Committee, asking for their sport to be re-instated. They have also responded to the IFDS survey due Tuesday.
Daniel Bina, a member of the Czech Disabled Sailing Team, explained to ParaSport News that he is pessimistic about the future going forward. He sees the 2.4mR as one of the only sailing class to be able to sustain itself because disability sailors can easily compete in open events. He believes that countries which exclusively see their sailors compete in disability only classes will struggle, and these classes will disappear from the world of sailing: ” Countries with only handicapped fleet or only with few boats will loose support and disappear from a world map. At the best, fleets will stagnate. I’d be really glad to be wrong.”
Competitive disability sailing in the Czech Republic is largely confined to the one-person keelboat, 2.4mR. The country hosts a national ranking event consisting of five different competitions in this discipline. They also host an international championship in the discpline. The Czech have also consistently sent sailors to compete at the IFDS World Championship, with CZEDB3 currently ranked ninth in the world while CZEAS2 is ranked twenty-sixth. Beyond that, there are two disability sailing centers in the country. One is in Prague, and the other is in Stare Splavy.
The announcement that sailing was cut from the program was made on February 1. Among the reasons cited by the IPC for cutting the sport was that it had failed to demonstrate the minimum required participation rates. The IPC handbook with requirements for inclusion on the program says, “Only individual sports and disciplines widely and regularly practised in a minimum of thirty-two (32) countries and three (3) IPC regions may be considered for inclusion in the Paralympic Games.” According to the IPC, they had been in contact with sailing since 2013 about their need to work on proving participation numbers and had offered training in December 2013 to all federations to work on their application. They have said that sailing leadership turned down these offers of assistance.