Sailor calls for Paralympic ruling reversal

Geoff Holt Picture: OnEdition
Geoff Holt Picture: OnEdition
Alex Alley, from Gosport.

Picture: Sarah Standing (151832-9304) PPP-151030-175051001

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GEOFF HOLT has expressed his fury at sailing being excluded from the Paralympics.

And the groundbreaking disability sailor has launched a campaign for the controversial decision to be reversed.

Holt, 48, has demanded questions be answered after it was announced sailing will not feature at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

The International Paralympic Committee stated disability sailing did not meet the minimum criteria to be involved – with not enough countries competing.

But Holt, who is the first quadriplegic sailor to sail across the Atlantic, rubbished that suggestion.

He said: ‘I’m furious about it, absolutely livid.

‘It’s just been a tremendous blow.

‘People have devoted their lives to sailing – not just sailors but committees, volunteers and the public money that has been contributed – and now it’s just being dismissed.

‘People need to be held to account as to what has gone wrong here.

‘I would argue that we have a huge majority of countries that do sail.

‘Out of all the other sports omitted in the Paralympics, sailing is one of the most universally done by disabled people.

‘It’s also one of the few sports in the Paralympics where every disability can take part.

‘Whether you’re in a wheelchair, blind or missing a leg, you can compete in a race. There’s no other sport where you can do that.’

Holt has now launched social media campaigns to garner support from the sailing community with a Facebook group and online petition.

He added: ‘The campaigns are going really well.

‘We just want as many people world wide to be backing this as it’s just been such a shock.

‘There are some big questions that need asking, as we need to find out what has gone wrong and how to fix it.

‘The International Federation of Disabled Sailing and International Sailing Association have to explain why they have not developed the sport wide enough.

‘They are ultimately responsible for developing the sport. If we’re being told that there are not enough countries competing, then the International Sailing Association are responsible for not developing the sport far enough.

‘There are more than 6,000 unhappy people so we will keep these campaigns going and hopefully we can get the decision overturned.’