This is part of a series of continuing articles about sailing and the 2020 Paralympic Games inclusion efforts. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Commentary: Sailing: What now that the community understands 2020 is gone?, and the most recent news.
Despite the fact that IPC leadership indicated to ISAF leadership last week that the window of opportunity to be included on the 2020 Paralympic program closed firmly on February 4, a press statement by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) published today continues to hold out hope for the possible reinclusion of sailing 2020 Paralympic program.
The statement says, “The RYA welcomes ISAF’s efforts and direct discussions with the IPC in an attempt to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games programme for Tokyo 2020. […] While the recent meeting between IPC officials and the ISAF President and Vice President did not manage to reverse the decision thus far, we understand that there is still a slim possibility for 2020 – and while that slim hope remains we will continue unabated with our plans, activities and our support of our sailors and of ISAF towards sailing’s return to the Paralympic Games programme.”
This slim hope appears predicated upon comments circulating among MNAs the sailing facilities in Tokyo will be handicap accessible, and the sailing facilities can handle Paralympic class boats. The IPC has been consistent in their messaging since the initial statement was made that this decision was not going to be re-visited. The IPC has also been clear that they provided opportunities for all sports to work on and improve their applications after the initial decision in October of last year to include some sports, and further scrutinize the remaining applications.
Their statement goes on to state, “The RYA is also proactively working with ISAF to support developing Paralympic sailing nations, and to maximise the impact of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland in June as an opportunity to showcase Paralympic sailing at its best. ”
Since the announcement was made regarding the decision, no one in the former IFDS nor ISAF have published participation numbers that meet IPC requirements. Statements to ParaSport News indicated that IFDS submitted participation numbers that included non-Paralympic class boats, and counting able-bodied sailors participating in open events as disability sailors to boost their numbers. RYA’s statement does nothing to further this point regarding participation numbers as it does not state what the IPC has clearly asked for, “Disability sailing national teams from over 32 different countries will be participating in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland in June.”
RYA holds out hope despite the fact that a ParaSport News analysis finds based on participation numbers, 7-a-side football has a much stronger case for re-inclusion on the 2020 Paralympic program. The RYA did not specify what they were holding out hope based on. In conversations ParaSport News has had with over ten other MNAs, there was no indication that any had hope for re-inclusion on the program based on the IPC criteria as outlined in the IPC Handbook. Most were aware that the reason for not being included on the program was the lack of participation.