The decision by the International Paralympic Committee to remove sailing from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has not come as welcome news to competitors. Two-time USA Sailing Paralympian Paul Callahan, who is now CEO of the national disabled sailing program Sail To Prevail, comments… My fellow disabled sailors and I, both in the USA and around the world, are stunned by the decision not to include sailing as a Paralympic sport in the 2020 Paralympic Games. When we received the news together at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami event, it was as if we had just received word that a relative died suddenly – without any warning whatsoever. How can the governing body of worldwide amateur disabled sports rip the heart out of one of the few Paralympic sports that nearly mimics the level of its counterpart in Olympic sport – Olympic sailing for able-bodied athletes? It is especially heartbreaking to disabled sailing when true parity is finally within striking distance to its able-bodied Olympic counterpart – which very few other sports can even truly suggest. This decision is a true insult to sailors around the world, especially able-bodied sailors and anyone else who has been involved in the sport over the last two decades – as an incredible amount of growth, success and progress has been corroborated and achieved in extracting “the best” from sailors with disabilities. Able-bodied sailors, boat manufacturers, yacht clubs, community sailing centers, sponsors, the media and countless volunteers have worked tirelessly and have been so very gracious to enhance the spirit and functionality of Paralympic sailing, both in the USA and worldwide. As a unified body, we need to rally together to insist that this shortsighted decision to eliminate Paralympic sailing from the Paralympic Games in 2020 be reversed, as it is purported that there is still one “slot” available in the 2020 Games. For the good of the sport, and for the good of having disabled people in the future be given the opportunity to reach their highest potential in competitive sailing – which translates into harnessing universal and exceptional life skills only learned at this level of our sport – please join us in this quest for reinstatement.
NOTE: For statements from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, USA, and the International Sailing Federation: CLICK HERE