World Sailing has today officially kick-started the campaign for sailing to be reinstated at the Paralympic Games in Los Angeles (USA) in 2028.
The governing body has outlined a set of strategic priorities to support the growth of the sport by 2023:
- Increase worldwide participation to 45 nations on 6 continents.
- Increase youth participation (below the age of 30) to 20% of total athletes.
- Grow the number of female participants to 30% and, ultimately, to achieve gender parity.
Focusing on diversity, inclusion, affordability, development, and increasing the number of open and Para sailing events are all part of World Sailing’s framework to build on the success of Para sailing.
“We know that other major sports looking for reinstatement are already drawing up their bid plans,” commented David Graham, CEO of World Sailing. “We know that IPC President, Andrew Parsons, has already publicly declared that the IPC will be looking at potential ‘new sports’ following the successful introduction of new, youth-focused sports at Tokyo 2020. We are on track to achieve our strategic priorities by 2023 and we are taking nothing for granted.”
The growth of Para sailing today is increasing at an unprecedented pace:
“Over the past five years, the number of nations with Para sailors participating in international Para sailing competitions has increased by 30%,” said Graham. “Our international Para sailing athletes are some of the most accomplished sailors in the world who are inspiring the next generation.” At the recent Hansa World Championships (2-9 October) 181 Para sailors representing 23 nations from across six continents took part.
The Trust has renewed its focus on Access to Sailing by promoting diversity across the sailing community, making sailing more accessible for all, and increasing participation across the sport. By adapting sailing for all and developing successful Para sailing programmes can support inclusion and opportunities for people with additional needs across society is critical. The exclusion of sailing from the Paralympic Games provides even more urgency for support to enhance and widen opportunities to participate in Para sailing.
Dee Caffari , Chair of the World Sailing Trust, comments: “The Trust is delighted to support this bid. Para sailing athletes are fiercely competitive and highly skilled sailors, often racing amongst their able-bodied peers. The Paralympic platform shines a light on their skills and inspires future generations, demonstrating to the world the freedom and enjoyment the sport of sailing can give to everyone.”
Recognising and embracing disabilities outside the Paralympic sphere is not only important to growth and participation worldwide but also inclusion into mainstream sailing. “World Sailing and our global sailing community does not make the distinction between athletes who are able-bodied and those who are not – we all compete together, with the same rules. What really matters is personal skill,” commented Spanish Para sailor Gabriel Barroso de María. “Sailing’s inclusiveness really stands out as a powerful lesson for our entire society: equality is possible on the water, and should be everywhere else.”
“In a landscape of Para sports that feel more and more exclusive to me, and many others, with quadriplegia and minimal finger dexterity sailing is different – I can start any race and be competitive.”
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has yet to confirm the bid process for LA28, however World Sailing is proactively launching its campaign to galvanise support and build on the growth of Para sailing.
The 2028 Summer Paralympic Games, known as LA28, will be the first held in the United States since 1996 when Para sailing made its debut at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport. Para sailing was a successful Paralympic sport for five consecutive Games from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016.
In 2015, it was announced that Para sailing was being dropped from Tokyo 2020, along with seven-a-side football, in favor of badminton and taekwondo. A total of 22 sports were contested at the Paralympics in Tokyo and the LAGames currently plans to keep that number the same for 2028.