By Duncan Mackay

A campaign has been launched to get sailing restored to the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020 ©Getty ImagesBritain have led the protests against the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)'s decision to drop sailing from Tokyo 2020 and, together with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), have launched a campaign for the sport to be added to the programme.

Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC, claimed that sailing, along with football seven-a-side, were axed because they did not meet the "minimum criteria for worldwide reach".

The ISAF, however, dispute Sir Philip's claim.

"Sailing adds a unique element to Paralympic sport through open events that include athletes with a broad range of disabilities," a statement from the Southampton-based world governing body said..

"At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 23 nations from four continents were represented across the three Paralympic events.

"Every effort will be made to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games.

A petition has already been launched by Will Matthews, from Cowes in Britain, on the website calling for the IPC to reverse their decision. 

By the end of Sunday it had already been signed nearly 4,000 times. 

A petition to get sailing reinstated into the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020 has been launched on on ©change.orgA petition to get sailing reinstated into the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020 has been launched on on ©

Sailing made its Paralympic debut at Sydney 2000 and have appeared in every Games since, including London 2012 where Britain finished joint top of the medals table thanks to a gold and bronze medals in the three classes. 

"This is hugely disappointing news for the sport of disabled sailing worldwide, for British Sailing team athletes who are already working hard towards Tokyo, and is a loss to the Paralympic Games itself as sailing provides a unique element to the sporting programme," said The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) in a statement.

"We will be discussing with ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee as to how we might support them if there is any further recourse to be had, as we understand that there are currently only 22 out of a maximum possible 23 sports on the programme for Tokyo 2020.

"In the meantime we'll be doing all we can to get our teams on the podium for Rio 2016."

Britain have been supported by Canada, who have won a gold and two bronze medals in the four Games since the sport was introduced to the Paralympics. 

"The recent news regarding the International Paralympic Committee's decision to exclude sailing from the 2020 Paralympic Games is a devastating blow for the sport of sailing worldwide," said Sail Canada in a statement. 

"For Canadian sailors campaigning towards 2020 and beyond, this news is extremely disappointing and creates a major setback in direction for these aspiring Paralympic athletes.

"Discussion will ensue with the ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee in an effort to determine if there are any further appeal opportunities. Sail Canada will collaborate with the IFDS (International Association For Disabled Sailing) in their efforts to ensure the future of Paralympic sailing."

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