In ParaSport News‘s continuing series on sailing following the decision to cut the sport from the 2020 Paralympic program, we talked to Norges Seilforbund about the current state of disability sailing in their country. Norwegian national team coach Jacob Haug stated, “on a national team level disabled sailing stops after the Rio games if the decision will stay as it is now.” Haug prefaced this by saying, “[Norges Seilforbund] still support the national team towards RIO 2016, and will encourage clubs to continue work on having sailing also for disabled persons.”
Like a number of Member National Associations (MNAs), the Norwegians learned of the news while at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. Since then, they have taken a number of steps to try to help their sport. This included responding to the IFDS survey due on Tuesday, and sending a letter of support to the IPC asking for the decision to be changed. They have also signed an online petition. On a Board level, Norges Seilforbund has been in touch with several other MNA Boards since the decision was made.
According to Haug the program is active, with a number of sailors involved in it. ParaSport News research has found 4 classified or ranked IFDS Norwegian sailors who have competed in at least 20 disability sailing events since January 2012. As Haug says the disability sailing program is fully integrated into the Norwegian sailing program, this number is probably higher as a result of competing in open sailing competitions. Team wise, Haug says, “We have one sonar and one 2,4. Both boats has sailed for many years, and are participating in World cups, Eurosaf events, World championships and the games. They are sailing all year round.”
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.