World Sailing, the world governing body for the sport, has reached a major milestone in its Paralympic quest by submitting the official application for inclusion in the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games.
“Today is a pivotal moment – our LA28 bid for Para Sailing is in.
“‘If our bid is successful, athletes from over 46 countries on six continents will be representing their nations at one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
“Our global sailing family has spoken loud and clear, coming together to #BacktheBid – to see this sport, which offers so much to so many people, back in the Paralympics,” said David Graham, CEO of World Sailing.
World Sailing’s ambition to be reinstated into the Paralympic Games started the moment it was removed after Rio 2016.
“Now, the International Paralympic Committee’s Governing Board has the difficult task of assessing applications from International Federations vying for a place on the LA28 Games plan, which currently considers 22 Paralympic sports – the same number as Rio, Tokyo and Paris – but now with more sports looking for inclusion. Our work is far from done,” explained Graham.
Para Sailing bid spotlight
The fast global growth of Para Sailing, the highly focused approach World Sailing is taking to increasing the number of female Para Sailors, and the fact that the sport is highly inclusive puts it in the frame for consideration by the International Paralympic Committee, which will finally decide in January 2023.
“Para Sailing is thriving despite what has been a challenging few years for global sport,” underlined Graham. “We now have Para Sailors active in 41 countries on five continents. Our dedicated Para Sailing Development Programme (PDP), created in 2017, has been key. We kicked off 2022 with our first PDP to be held in the Sultanate of Oman and just one week ago we held our first ever Para Kiteboarding PDP.”
Para Sailing is one of the most inclusive sports there is with 44% of the top 10 sailors at Para World Championships having high support needs.
Sailing is also one of the few sports where men and women can compete alongside and against each other on a level playing field – World Sailing’s bid for LA28 reflects this with proposed mixed male and female crews, or fleets, across all three of the suggested classes.
Para Sailing’s Paralympic ambition
World Sailing officially kick-started its Paralympic reinstatement campaign last October supported by globally renowned sailors and leading figures in the sport.
Sweden’s youngest ever athlete at a Paralympic Games – sailor Fia Fjelddahl – was 17 when she was chosen as flagbearer for the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony:
“Six years later – two Games cycles later – I still can’t put into words what it felt like to carry Sweden’s flag in Rio,” said the sustainable engineering student.
“Our sport is flourishing. As sailors, we have a special affinity with what surrounds us – we’re constantly tuning in and finding solutions to our natural environment and in society. We have a lot to give to the Paralympic Games as everyone globally looks for depth in the meaning of sport and how it can improve the world we all live in.”
Sir Ben Ainslie CBE, the most successful sailor in Olympic history, winning medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1996 onwards – including gold at the four Games held between 2000 and 2012 – is clear on his wish to see Paralympic sailors competing in Los Angeles:
“Sailing is so inclusive and gives so many people opportunities to really work as a team regardless of physical ability. That’s why it’s critical that sailing is back in the Paralympic Games for LA28.”
Future of Para Sailing
In February, the International Paralympic Committee held an eagerly awaited session with International Federations targeting LA28, outlining the terms and timeline – directly after attending, Graham announced this was top of the agenda for World Sailing.
“I said it in February, and I’m saying it again now – our Para Sailing strategy is fully aligned to the IPC’s guiding principles, we can deliver on the criteria and demonstrate that Para Sailing is one of the most inclusive, diverse and universal sports on the planet today.
“While Para Sailing has continued to grow since Rio and transform lives around the world, we are fully aware of just how much Paralympic Games inclusion helps to drive para sport – from grassroots to top level competition. This is why our resolve to get back in the Games is so strong.
“One thing is for sure – World Sailing’s President, Board of Directors, Council and staff are fully committed to the ongoing development of Para Sailing. This will continue, whatever the outcome of our LA28 application,” concluded Graham.
World Sailing’s Para World Sailing Strategy
World Sailing has outlined its 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
The Para World Sailing Strategy 2020-2023 can be viewed here.
*World Sailing follows the six-continental model: Africa, America, Antarctica, Asia, Australia/Oceania and Europe (opposed to the five-continental model: Africa, Europe, Asia, America and Oceania/Australia).
International Paralympic Games – Decision Process & Timeline
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is following a four-step process with International Federations (IFs) targeting inclusion in the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games programme:
Step 1: IPC initiates review process. Eligible IFs invited to fill out ‘Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games Sport Programme Questionnaire’ (2 Feb 2022)
Step 2: Deadline for IFs to return Questionnaire to IPC (4 July 2022)
Step 3: The IPC Governing Board reviews all interested sports and identifies areas that need additional information and clarification (end Sept 2022)
Step 4: The IPC Governing Board determines Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games Sport Programme (end of Jan 2023)
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