More than 10,700 people have signed a petition calling for sailing to be reinstated as a sport in the 2020 Paralympic Games.
It follows the shock decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), to drop sailing (and 7-a-side football) from the sporting programme for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Badminton and taekwondo will be included for the first time instead.
In a new statement, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) said it ‘shares in the outpouring of shock and grave disappointment around the world following this weekend’s announcement that sailing has been removed from the Paralympic Games programme for Tokyo 2020.
‘The primary reason stated for this decision by the International Paralympic Committee was that sailing “did not fulfil the IPC Handbook’s minimum criteria for worldwide reach” which specifies sports and disciplines must be widely and regularly practised in a minimum of 32 countries and 3 IPC regions to be considered for inclusion into the Paralympic Games.
‘The RYA is unaware of the content of ISAF’s submission to the IPC, although did offer its support on a number of occasions towards building the case for sailing but was advised it was unnecessary.
‘We are therefore unaware of the specifics as to how the bid fell short, but it does appear that opportunities were missed to address the IPC’s concerns at a number of stages. The IPC has indicated it will send review documents to ISAF and we have again requested sight of these.
‘Since the weekend’s news, the RYA and fellow Member National Authorities with whom it has joined forces have been in hourly contact, exerting increasing pressure on ISAF to take swift and decisive action to engage with the IPC in a bid to try and address this issue and take whatever steps necessary to reinstate sailing onto the Paralympic sports programme.
‘This is a global concern for the sport, and ISAF, as the recognised International Federation within the Paralympic movement, is the only body who can legitimately make these representations to the IPC.’
The RYA added: ‘ISAF’s silence on this issue thus far has been deafening.
‘We implore them to engage with their MNAs, who stand ready to support them, and lead on a co-ordinated effort with both MNAs and Class Associations to re-present the case for sailing with the IPC before it is too late.’
In a statement the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) said: ‘ISAF is extremely disappointed to receive this news from the International Paralympic Committee. Sailing adds a unique element to Paralympic sport through open events that include athletes with a broad range of disabilities.
‘At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 23 nations from four continents were represented across the three Paralympic events.
‘Every effort will be made to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games.’