The effort to reestablish Sailing as a Paralympic Sport was not successful as the International Paralympic Committee revealed the 22 sports to be featured in the sport program for Los Angeles 2028.
Sailing was introduced at the Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport in 1996, and as an official sport for five editions from 2000 to 2016. However, mismanagement led to it being dropped for Tokyo 2020, and World Sailing has been committed to the necessary changes for its return.
But the unavoidable fact is how no sport has successfully been reinstated after being dropped, so despite achieving necessary and significant growth, that record remains unbroken. After being denied for Paris 2024, Para Sailing remains excluded for Los Angeles 2028.
World Sailing sensed this outcome when CEO David Graham shared an open letter to Para Sailors around the world on January 23, 2023, and now the organization offers this statement on January 30, 2023:
World Sailing has vowed to continue supporting Para Sailing worldwide following the news that the sport will not be included in the Paralympic Games for LA28.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) delivered their verdict today (Jan. 30, 2023), stating that they had received a number of strong bids to be part of the Games in Los Angeles.
World Sailing CEO, David Graham, said, “We fully respect the verdict of the IPC and recognize the difficulty the IPC Board faced throughout this process.
“However, we must also acknowledge that this is an extremely disappointing day for our whole sport and, in particular, for Para Sailors around the world. Despite this setback, our commitment to our Para Sailors, to the continued growth of Para Sailing, and to the wider Para Sport movement will only grow stronger.
“We know a life on water unlocks so many opportunities for disabled people, we know how inclusive Para Sailing is, and we are determined that Para Sailing will continue to go from strength to strength.”
World Sailing launched its #BacktheBid campaign in the summer of 2021 to restore sailing to the Paralympic Games and offer a new generation of sailors the chance to compete at the highest level. There are now 41 nations on five continents active in Para Sailing, and over 630 active Para Sailors registered with World Sailing.
Five World Championship Para Sailing events took place in 2022 and Para Sailing will make its debut at the Allianz World Sailing Championships – The Hague 2023 later this year when sailors in Hansa 303, 2.4mR and RS Venture Connect classes will compete for world titles.
Graham added, “On behalf of World Sailing, I would like to thank the IPC for the time and consideration given to our application. There were 33 sports seeking inclusion for the LA28 Paralympic Games and we appreciate the challenge this poses to the IPC Board. No sport has successfully been reinstated and we knew this was going to be a difficult task.
“I also want to thank everyone in sailing for their efforts throughout this campaign, particularly our Para Sailing Committee and the World Sailing Board. From the highest level to the local boat club, we have seen overwhelming support for the #BacktheBid campaign, and it shows how important it us for us to work together on the big issues that benefit the entire sport.”
World Sailing launched its Para Sailing Development Program (PDP) in 2017 to empower sailors and coaches by increasing participation in all regions. During this time, over 210 sailors and coaches from 39 countries on six continents have completed the program.
In 2022 alone, programs in the Sultanate of Oman, Singapore, Japan and Italy – where Para Kiteboarding was featured for the first time – saw a total of 40 sailors and 31 coaches from 14 nations, including Cambodia, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Malta represented for the first time.
World Sailing will now work closely with Member National Authorities (MNAs), further develop the infrastructure and resources available to Para Sailing, and provide more Para Sailors with greater opportunities within the sport.