Earlier today in a letter to Geoff Holt, the CEO of Wetwheels CIC and the man who drove for the sport’s initial inclusion on the 1996 Summer Paralympics program, Craig Spence, the IPC’s Communication and Media Director, wrote a detailed response as to why sailing was eliminated from the 2020 Summer Paralympics program. This decision was made last Saturday when the the International Paralympic Committee’s Governing Board met in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and announced that sailing and 7-a-side football had not been selected for 2020 Summer Paralympic program. They also warned that cycling that the track discipline could be at risk for the future as the sport did not look sustainable.
Spence said, “The inclusion of Badminton and Taekwondo demonstrates that the IPC Governing Board is willing to reward robust athlete participation and good sport governance Herein lies an opportunity for both Sailing and Football 7-a-side to regroup, reform, rejuvenate and return with an improved proposition when we launch the next review cycle in 2018 (for the 2024 Games).”
Spence also went through the timeline of events that led up to the IPC making this decision. He said that in November 2013, all 24 international federations that were elgible to apply for inclusion on the 2020 program were informed of the timeline, conditions and requirements for inclusion. At that time, the IPC also offered to make themselves available to these federations to assist them in meeting the requirements by July 2014 meeting. Spence claims that the International Sailing Federation (ISFS) attended one of these meetings. Following the July 2014 submissions, the IPC then assessed each application against the same criteria looking at criteria like worldwide participation, competition schedule, classification, compliance with antidoping policies, and efforts by the federations to “make their sport more attractive.”
In September 2014, the IPC informed eight sports that their applications had shortcomings that needed to be addressed. These sports included sailing and 7-a-side football. The IPC at this time expressed concern that these sports had misrepresented their participation figures to meet minimum criteria for inclusion on the Paralympic program.
These sports were given an opportunity in October 2014 to fix their application shortcomings and present their applications before the IPC Governing Board in Berlin, Germany. After this meeting, these sports were given additional feedback and instruction for how to continue to improve their application for potential on the 2020 program. The feedback that sailing and 7-a-side football participation numbers were off was reinforced at this time.
At the January 30, 2015 and February 1 meeting in Abu Dhabi, one last review was conducted for the eight federations whose applications had been identified as having issues. The IPC Governing Board felt that neither sailing nor 7-a-aside football had addressed the issue regarding legitimacy of their participation numbers to be in compliance with the policy regarding the minimum number of countries participation. At the same time, the IPC Governing Board also felt that their applications had a number of other deficits that still existed that could not be overcome. Because of these issues, they elected not to include either sport on the 2020 Summer Paralympic program.
According to Holt on Facebook, the IPC Governing Board’s decision to not include sailing on the program was unanimous. He also said, “It would appear that IFDS / ISAF failed on a number of occasions to prove to IPC that sailing is being practised to the IPC minimum requirements for eligibility. Perhaps IFDS / ISAF would like to make a statement as to why they have failed to develop our sport to the minimum standard? Someone must be held accountable for this catastrophe to hit our sport. IPC also confirmed on the phone that their decision was unanimous (all members of IPC voted) and it was irreversible.”