The International Paralympic Committee has removed sailing from the 2020 Paralympic Games programme.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has determined the sporting programme for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In a shock decision, sailing and 7-a-side football have been removed from the programme. Instead, badminton and taekwondo will be included for the first time.
The full IPC press release is here.
In a statement the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) said: ‘This is hugely disappointing news for the sport of disabled sailing worldwide, for British Sailing Team athletes who are already working hard towards Tokyo, and is a loss to the Paralympic Games itself as sailing provides a unique element to the sporting programme.
‘We will be discussing with ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee as to how we might support them if there is any further recourse to be had, as we understand that there are currently only 22 out of a maximum possible 23 sports on the programme for Tokyo 2020.
‘In the meantime we’ll be doing all we can to get our teams on the podium for Rio 2016.’
A petition calling for the IPC to reinstate Paralympic sailing into the 2020 Games has attracted more than 5,500 signatures.
Duncan Souster, CEO of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a charity which promotes the integration of people of all physical abilities through sailing adventures, said: ‘We are hugely disappointed with this decision from the International Paralympic Committee.
‘Sailing offers a life-changing outlet for people with a wide range of disabilities, inspiring them to lead more independent lives.
‘Since Great Britain won the first Paralympic Sailing gold medal in 1996, the Games has been a standard bearer for the promotion of sailing among disabled people.
‘Sailing is more than an Olympic sport, it demonstrates that disabled people can take on the kinds of challenges that would inspire anyone. To cull it from the Games is pouring a cold bucket of water on that inspiration.
‘The decision undermines the hard work of many organisations and charities like the Jubilee Sailing Trust that work to provide life-enhancing adventures for disabled people through sailing.
‘I am sure that the leaders of the International Sailing Federation will be doing everything they can to appeal this decision and we will do all we can to support them.’
Rising star in the British team, 2.4mR single-handed keelboat sailor Megan Pascoe said: ‘It was a very strange moment when we heard the decision because we were at the end of the ISAF world cup event in Miami.
‘There was such a great buzz around the whole Paralympic movement after a great event in Miami that turned to shock once the decision was made.
‘We hope that ISAF can lobby the IPC and get the decision overturned. Whatever happens, Rio 2016 will take place and we are still fighting hard to win medals there.’
Pascoe, of Portland, Dorset, achieved a silver medal at the Miami event and has her sights set on representing Britain at the Rio 2016 Games.
She added: ‘With under two years to go the pressure is ramping up as is the excitement.
‘I had a really great week in Miami and am looking forward to the next event in Palma at the Princess Sofia trophy.’
Paralympic sailing champion Helena Lucas, who won gold in the 2.4mR class at the London 2012 Games, said: ‘I’m really disappointed that sailing has not been chosen as a sport for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
‘Since London 2012 there has been a lot of effort in continuing the legacy and making sailing an accessible sport to everyone. It’s a big backwards step for Paralympic sailing which I feel was really developing In terms of participation and professionalism.