Just a few hours ago, ISAF finally released a statement on behalf of IFDS following the decision to remove sailing from the 2020 Paralympic Games. The statement itself can be seen in the links.
But aside from the fact that we have been removed, I’ve started to wonder if sailing can ever survive this drastic decision?
The Sonar and the 2.4Mr classes will probably manage to survive, seeing as they both have very strong able-bodied competition, and their own World Championships each year. The Skud however will die. There is simply no competition outside of the IFDS circuit.
But that’s just the boats, what about the sailors? Some of us I know will be able to convert to Olympic classes, but we are very few and far between. What will happen to the rest? Change sports? Get jobs? Keep going in the hope that sailing returns in 2024?
The options are pretty bleak.
I know in my own case that Team GBR are continuing in a “business as usual” manner as we still have 2016 to focus on, but after that, there will be no UK sport funding, and all of us on the Podium and Podium Potential squads will be unceremoniously dumped. No funding, no sailing.
So whats next?
Recently Geoff Holt (The first Quadriplegic to cross the Atlantic ocean unaided) started a campaign on Facebook, which you can see here: https://www.facebook.com/ReinstateParalympicSailing2020. As you can see the support has been overwhelming, and that’s just 5 days worth of support.
There is also a change.org petition started by Young MP Will Matthews, again, you can see that here: https://www.change.org/p/international-paralympic-committee-reinstatesailing-for-the-2020-paralympics?just_created=true
The support is clearly behind the sport.
So I guess now we wait, I just hope for all the sailors sake that something can be done.
At least it gives me something to think about for a few days!
And for you all, you can see the reasoning behind the IPC decision in their letter to Geoff.