Para Surfing and 2024 Paralympic Decision by the IPC

“It is clear that our sport has a lot of development work left to do, but it’s also very encouraging that adaptive surfing is in the conversation for LA 2028,” said Surf Canada President Dom Domic. “I have no doubt that together we can achieve that goal.”

Para Surfing and 2024 Paralympic Decision by the IPC

February 9, 2018

Dear National Federations and Global Adaptive Surfing Community

As many of you are aware, in November 2017, we submitted our declaration of intent to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to apply for Para Surfing’s inclusion in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Considering we are still relatively young in our efforts to develop and grow the sport of Para Surfing around the globe and create a platform for Para Surfers to achieve sporting excellence, we were optimistic but also aware that it was a big step for our sport. The Paralympic Games are the highest platform for Para Sport and one of the ISA’s goals is to parallel Surfing’s Olympic inclusion with the inclusion of Para Surfing into the Paralympics.

Last week the ISA received notice from the IPC that Para Surfing was not invited to the second phase of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games application process. Eleven new sports applied and only six were considered for the second phase in what IPC President Andrew Parsons called the “most comprehensive application process in Paralympic history.”

While we are disappointed to not be considered for the next application phase, we are thankful for the opportunity to be considered and in no way deterred from our mission to continue to grow and develop the sport.

It is important for everyone to understand that such setbacks are normal and a part of the long-term process for Paralympic inclusion. Back in 2011, the ISA received a similar notification from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Surfing had not been shortlisted for inclusion in the Olympic Games and it did not deter us, we persevered and in 2016 we achieved our mission of Surfing’s inclusion in the Olympic Games.

Outside the official IPC board decision, we have had positive feedback from the IPC Leadership who are impressed by the work and commitment of the ISA to develop and grow this discipline.  They have encouraged us to continue on our current path.

As a result, the ISA is committed to work harder than ever to develop and grow the sport of Para Surfing across the globe in partnership with our National Federations and the global Adaptive Surfing Community. We can continue to push and lead at an international level but we need a unified global effort to truly grow the sport and take it to the next level.

The rationale stated by the IPC for not inviting Para Surfing to the next application phase was that the sport did not meet the IPC’s worldwide reach benchmark of 32 countries that are widely and regularly practicing the sport. In the eyes of the IPC, a country is considered widely and regularly practicing a sport if: it has been holding recognized/sanctioned National Championships on a regular basis or it has been competing with a national delegation in internationally recognized/sanctioned competitions on a regular basis.

In our application, we highlighted that under the ISA’s leadership the sport of Para Surfing has grown rapidly in global participation in reach and that we have strongly encouraged all our National Federations to adopt the discipline of Para Surfing on a national level and create regular programs and championships. We highlighted that although as of 2017 we were not at the benchmark of 32 widely and regularly practicing countries, we were fully confident that based upon our growth and trajectory we would be well-beyond that number by the time of the 2024 Paralympic Games. In three years of organizing the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship there has been a 44% increase in national attendance (18 nations in 2015, 26 in 2017) and a 58% increase in the number of participating athletes (69 athletes in 2015, 109 in 2017). We are committed to organize this ISA World Championship in 2018 and beyond and hope to see continued participation growth in this world championship and other national initiatives.

Moving forward here are ways that together we can continue to grow and push Para Surfing forward

Adopt Para Surfing as a discipline within your National Surfing Federation (NF)

If your NF has not done so already, please connect with the Adaptive (Para) Surfers in your nation to bring this discipline under the guidance and support of your national federation. It is important that Para Surfing grows within the institutional structure of the NF and that your NF creates opportunities for Para Surfers in your nation.

Run or Participate in National/Regional Adaptive Surfing Competitions and/or National Adaptive Surfing Championships

Since the 2015 ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship, we have seen many of our NFs holding national events and we encourage those that haven’t done so to begin running national events and to use these as qualification for the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship. The growth of competitive, elite level Para Surfing must occur at the national and regional level along with the international level.

Support Adaptive Surfing Development at the grassroots level to increase interest and participation in the sport

This development includes adaptive surfing clinics and grassroots development programs. This is especially important in nations that do not currently have Adaptive Surfing programs within their federation. If you need advice or assistance on adaptive surfing development or how to get started in this area do not hesitate to contact us. Please email ISA Associate Membership and Development Manager, Alex Reynolds alexreynolds@isasurf.org

Participate in the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship

The ISA is committed to organizing the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship (WASC) in 2018 and beyond. We have not yet confirmed the date or location for the 2018 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship and are working hard in these weeks to confirm these details. Since its inception, the ISA has hosted the event in La Jolla, California. Starting this year (2018), we are excited to open up the opportunity to other potential host nations. If any national delegations are interested in hosting this event in their country, please contact ISA Executive Director, Robert Fasulo at robertfasulo@isasurf.org. As soon as the date and location for 2018 has been confirmed the ISA will communicate this with you.

Improve our Para Surfing Classification System through continued research and additional classification opportunities

In 2017, the ISA began a study with our Classification Review Committee to review and assess our current classification system in order to improve it moving forward. We are working hard to ensure that our classification is evidence-based and an effective way of capturing both the impairments of the athletes and how the athletes’ impairments affect their ability to surf. We offered a research and training opportunity at the 2017 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship (WASC) and will offer another at the 2018 WASC as well as at other international events in 2018 which will be communicated in the near future. If you plan to host an event and are interested in classification training and research please contact us. It is imperative that we continue to expand and refine our classification system as we grow and develop the sport.

The ISA is committed to inclusion, at all levels, and that is why Para Surfing is so important to us. Everyone deserves the chance to surf, and we are excited to continue to grow and develop the sport but we need your help and involvement to create better opportunities for adaptive surfers moving forward. We will continue to persevere and take the sport to the next level so we can we can promote Para Surfing for inclusion in the Paralympic Program in future years.

We encourage you to contact us with any updates, questions, or suggestions for the growth and development of Para Surfing in your nation so that we can be working together to take the sport forward.

Best regards,

Fernando Aguerre

ISA President

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