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Sailing (Disabled People)

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 26 February 2015

10. What assessment he has made of the benefits of sailing for disabled people; and if he will make a statement. (907749)

The Government are committed to seeing everyone realise their sporting potential. Sport England is investing £800,000 in the Royal Yachting Association’s sailability programme, designed to make sailing accessible for disabled people. Thanks to that investment, more than 11,000 people with disabilities were able to enjoy sailing in 2013-14.

The great advantage of sailing over almost every other sport is that both disabled and non-disabled people can work together as equals. The loss of sailing from the Tokyo Paralympics would represent a giant step backwards. What more can the Minister do, working with Paralympic and sailing organisations both UK-based and elsewhere in the world, to reinstate sailing as a sport in the 2020 Paralympics.

Although that is a decision for the International Paralympic Committee, I recently met the chief executive of the British Paralympic Association to discuss this very issue. On several occasions, I have met my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt), who is also very concerned. Britain is a great sailing nation, and I completely understand the frustration of our Paralympic sailors. I therefore intend to speak to the IPC president Sir Philip Craven in the very near future.