Reinstate Paralympic Sailing into 2024 Games, one of the major disability sailing groups working to get the sport re-instated on the Paralympic program for 2024 is reporting on Facebook that several sailors who have qualified for the Rio Games are being threatened with expulsion from their teams if they discuss governance issues inside the sport. This specifically applies to issues about World Sailing’s plans to work on the sport being re-included on the Paralympic program. World Sailing and World Disability Sailing’s communication issues are taking place as an August 2017 IPC conference is scheduled to take place where sailing’s governing body will have its chance to make the case for inclusion on the 2024 Paralympic program. This will the first step towards a decision that will be made in late 2018.
Since the sailing and cerebral palsy football were cut from the program for 2020, both sports have created development plans to improve their numbers as part of their plans to seek inclusion on the program for 2024. Their pathways for doing this appear to have been very different.
Cerebral palsy football’s governing body, IFCPF, had separated amicably from CPISRA in the time period that the decision was being made. This decision was based on the idea that football needed to be governed by people who knew and loved football. According to IFCPF people talked to, the separation would enhance their already existing football first approach. Following their decision to cut the sport from the Tokyo program, IFCPF reached out to all their member organizations, brought new people on board to assist in improving things behind the scenes, and then launched an improved development plan. This development plan focused on going to footballers where they lived to show them in situ how local football governing bodies and facilities could easily and cheaply deliver the sport to people with cerebral palsy in their community. Much of this development focused on expanding the sport in Africa, and continuing to support it in traditional strongholds like Europe. IFCPF also put on the agenda items to make their sport more inclusive and more fair. This included having discussion about how to open the sport up to women, and moving their classification system away from a medical one to a functional one.
This contrasts to sailing, where physical disability and some vision impairment sailing’s governing body, IFDS, was merged into the ISAF, now called World Sailing. During 2015, the person in charge of IFDS’s efforts to keep sailing on the Paralympic program was kept on to lead efforts to get sailing back on for 2020 and then for 2024. This leader insisted the problems lay at the feet of the IPC who were punishing sailing. He also tried to make an argument that sailing was a team sport, and their participation numbers should be based on the lower participation numbers for team sports. The numbers submitted by the IFDS to the IPC are alleged to have included unclassified sailors and able-bodied sailors to get the participation numbers. Sailing’s development plan for disability sailing appear to have been given few resources and required they use information provided from IFDS to formulate their plan early on. There was little consultation with stakeholders, with many member associations initially left completely in the dark. When a plan was developed during 2015, the goal was to keep expectations low so ISAF could actually deliver on them. Much of this development plan involved member associations meeting certain criteria for interest and ability to support a disability sailing program. Following this, sailors from those countries could apply for grants to go to a major international competition where they could get introduced to the competitive side of the sport.
According to Reinstate Paralympic Sailing into 2024 Games, the communication and transparency issues that followed the surprise to the disability sailing community decision by IPC to cut sailing from the program continue. The disability sailing community appears as largely uninformed about the current situation as they did following sailing’s Paralympic program cut.