Taekwondo will make its Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020, it was decided by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board today, meaning a total of 22 sports will feature, but sailing and football seven-a-side will miss out.
The decision, confirmed at a meeting of the IPC Governing Board in Abu Dhabi, follows the announcement last year that badminton would be also added for the first time.
The two sports will join canoe and triathlon – which are due to make their debuts at Rio 2016 – as well as athletics, archery, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football seven-a-side, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.
But sailing, which has been on the programme since Sydney 2000, after being a demonstration sport at Atlanta 1996. and football seven-a-side, which has featured at every Games since Los Angeles 1984, have each been omitted.
This was because neither sport fulfilled the IPC Handbook’s minimum criteria for worldwide reach, IPC President Sir Philip Craven claimed.
This states that “only team sports widely and regularly practised in a minimum of 24 countries and three IPC regions will be considered for inclusion in the Paralympic Games and for individual sports a minimum of 32 countries in three IPC regions”.
“I would like to thank all 24 sports for applying for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and pass on my congratulations to the 22 sports that have been approved by the IPC Governing Board,” the Briton added.
“In particular, I’d like to pay testament to the sports of badminton and taekwondo for the work they have undertaken in securing their place at a Paralympic Games for the first time.
“To reach this decision, the IPC undertook the most extensive and rigorous review process ever of all the sports which started in November 2013.
“All were assessed against the same criteria and our aim all along has been to ensure that the final Tokyo 2020 Paralympic sports programme is fresh and features the best Para-sports possible.
“The Board’s final decision was not an easy one and, after much debate, we decided not to include two sports – football 7-a-side and sailing – from the Tokyo 2020 programme for the same reason.
“Both did not fulfil the IPC Handbook’s minimum criteria for worldwide reach.”
While disappointing for the two sports for whom Rio 2016 will mark their last Games, the news is a major boost for taekwondo, which has been making a sustained effort to raise the profile of the Paralympic side of the sport.
“We are delighted and humbled that the IPC Governing Board has selected Para-taekwondo for inclusion on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games sports programme for the very first time,” said World Taekwondo Federation President Chungwon Choue following the announcement.
“We have always been 100 per cent committed to making our sport a sport for all and inclusion in the Paralympic Games will help us to engage with more people than ever.
“Today is not just the realization of a dream for us, but the realization of a dream for the hundreds of Para-taekwondo athletes around the world.”
Taekwondo, along with badminton, were selected from a panel of nine new sports and disciplines all seeking inclusion, with powerchair football three-on-three, intellectually impaired basketball, electric wheelchair hockey, amputee football, one person multi-hull sailing, blind match racing sailing and three-on-three wheelchair basketball all eliminated at the first stage.
But while badminton was among the 16 sports added by the IPC Governing Board in Berlin following the first stage of assessment in October, taekwondo was forced to wait an extra three months before being approved today.
Cycling, canoe, football five-a-side, judo and wheelchair fencing were also approved today after being made to wait, despite being already on the programme, while sailing and football seven-a-side were not so lucky.
“Tokyo 2020 welcomes the announcement made by the International Paralympic Committee Governing Board on 31 January regarding the 22 sports to be included in the sports programme for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, said Tokyo 2020 Executive Director of Communications and Engagement Hidetoshi Fujisawa,
“This final line-up of sports brings us a step closer to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and will help the Organising Committee to further build momentum and excitement in Tokyo, Japan and throughout the entire world.”
Sports were assessed for worldwide participation in terms of countries and continents, where the sport is regularly practiced, quadrennial competition programme, athlete classification, anti-doping programme, rules and regulations, and initiatives undertaken to make their sport more attractive.
These eight sports not approved were asked to provide additional information to the IPC addressing issues identified in their applications, before the information was reviewed and a further analysis provided to the IPC Governing Board ahead of the meeting.
The IPC revealed in October that the International Cycling Union (UCI) submitted its application late and there was consequently insufficient time for it to be assessed in time for the meeting in Berlin.
Although cycling will remain on the programme, Sir Philip had a word of warning for track cycling today, urging the UCI to make changes if the sport is to remain in the long-term.
“Although the IPC Governing Board approved the inclusion of cycling, it did express serious reservations regarding the sustainability of the track cycling discipline,” he said.
“While a decision on the Tokyo 2020 medal events programme will not be made until 2017, the Board encourages the UCI to work towards increasing both the number of high-performance track cyclists and the number of opportunities for them to compete at an international level.”
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.