Portsmouth paralympics petition signed by thousands

The GB Paralympic sailing team in 2012
The GB Paralympic sailing team in 2012

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THOUSANDS of signatures supporting Paralympic sailing were submitted to Parliament by Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt.

The petition, with more than 15,000 signatories, asked that the government ‘prevail’ on the International Paralympic Committee to reinstate Paralympic sailing at the 2020 Tokyo games.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt

The decision not to include the event was announced in January when the IPC announced that it had not fulfilled the criteria.

Sixteen-year-old Will Matthews, a member of Youth Parliament for the Isle of Wight and a keen sailor, started the petition.

‘I have huge admiration for these men and women,’ he said.

‘Sailing at that level is tough enough for the able-bodied, what they do is truly amazing.’

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘It is outrageous that such an important sport should be dropped from the programme.

‘We owe it to these committed sportsmen and sportswomen to ensure they can compete at this level.

‘This issue has huge support in Parliament and from the minister.

‘The Olympics and Paralympics are very special competitions, and for sailing not to be represented is intolerable.’

To be considered for inclusion, an individual sport must be widely practised in a minimum of 32 countries in three IPC regions, something which the IPC say was not demonstrated.

Geoff Holt, sailor and disability sports ambassador, said: ‘The petition has raised this issue to a national level which is important because if we lose sailing we lose role models for young sailors.

‘The number of signatures shows the strength of support for sailing.’

The campaign has been backed by Gosport’s MP Caroline Dinenage MP and Andrew Turner MP from the Isle of Wight.

Since the petition was tabled in Parliament on Monday, the number of supporters has increased to more than 17,000.

It can be found at change.org/p/international-paralympic-committee-reinstatesailing-for-the-2020-paralympics