Thousands of people have signed a petition calling on the International Paralympic Committee to overturn their decision
A campaign to reinstate sailing at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo has gained almost 10,000 signatures in the last few days as pressure grows on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to over turn their decision.
48-year-old Geoff Holt, the first quadriplegic sailor to sail solo around Britain, has launched a Facebook page calling on the IPC to reconsider their decision.
It has almost 10,000 likes, combined with an online petition started by Will Matthews, which currently has 8,503 signatures.
Geoff said in a YouTube video: “The prospect of it (sailing) not being included in 2020 is heartbreaking. Not just for me and for those that have been involved over the years but for the sailors and their families.
“Whatever has been said or not said, it’s simply not made the case enough for sailing and this isn’t good enough.
“I’m quite prepared to help lead a campaign to reinstate sailing. It’s a wrong decision and sometimes in your heart you know things are wrong, and this is wrong.”
Geoff was involved in the team that got sailing introduced as a Paralympic sport back in 1996 at the Games in Atlanta.
A total of 24 sports were eligible to apply for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, with a maximum of 23 to be included.
However, sailing and 7-a-side football failed to make the programme, as they “did not fulfil the IPC handbook’s minimum criteria for worldwide reach”.
The decision has caused an outcry from sailors across the world and organisations such as the RYA and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).
In a statement the RYA said about the decision: “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.”
ISAF has assured sailors that “every effort will be made to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games”.