Editorial – Why has golf not been included in the Paralympic programme?
September 11, 2016 – It’s a good time to write about adapted golf. We enjoyed watching the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on television, those of us who didn’t travel this Summer to Brazil, and see Justin Rose and Inbee Park become Olympic golf champions in the eyes of the world, in a sport that returned to the Games’ programme after 112 years of absence.
Now, after a few weeks, we are fortunate to be able to see the 2016 Paralympic Games of Rio, thanks to TVE-Teledeporte. I experienced the Barcelona’92 Paralympics to the full (I still have the T-shirt of Petra, Cobi‘s friend), and I can say that every time a new edition is celebrated, it brings with it that extraordinary lesson of effort, emotion, sacrifice, achievement and enjoyment that Paralympic athletes give not only to me but to the whole society. And that is so, even when the protagonists of these Games become virtually anonymous for the next four years, or two years, if we bear in mind to the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Personally I think their competition, without the pressures of the professional character of the Games in August, return us the romanticism of the amateur nature of those first Olympic Games of the Modern Era, in Athens 1896.
Well, I love watching the Paralympic competition of athletics, swimming, archery, boccia, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, football, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, sitting volleyball, table tennis, triathlon; or wheelchair basketball, fencing, rugby and tennis; and above all, I love seeing the stands filled with public. But I find that there is something missing… golf!
To take advantage of the extraordinary infrastructures created for the Olympic Games for the Paralympics every four years, is definitely a superb idea. However, in Rio 2016 golf was reintroduced to the programme and a magnificent golf course, the Marapendi Reserve, was specially designed. Why has golf not also been included in the Paralympic programme?
Meanwhile, in the golf world, we have players like the Spanish Sebas Lorente or the Swedish Caroline Larsson (both pictured), to name a couple, who would love to be Paralympians and have the opportunity to show what they are capable of doing on the course, regardless of their condition. There are American, European and International golf associations for disabled players in different categories, and it is not difficult to establish classifications like in other Paralympic disciplines, and have medals in para-golf events for wheelchair, amputee, blind, or deaf players or Long Drive hitters.
After a little research, I’ve found out that in 2010 para-golf submitted an application to be included in the programme of the 2016 Paralympic Games, but was unsuccessful in the eyes of the Governing Board of the IPC (International Paralympic Committee). And what is worse, it appears that it has not even been considered for the programme of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. There are a limited number of eligible sports, and deliberations evaluate the sports rigorously, looking at worldwide participation in terms of countries and continents, whether they are regularly practiced, if there are regulations and anti-doping programme or if initiatives are being undertaken to make the sport more attractive. And this is where the issue seems so come aground, overtaken by other sports which have worked harder to become accepted. So, for the moment, golf is still ‘out of court’.
Having an Olympic golf course built in Rio for the occasion should have been enough to include golf as a Paralympic sport. And from here we’d like to support the future initiative for golf to be Paralympic, and be able to learn from a blind player making a hole-in-one, an amputee golfer playing under par or hitting the golf ball 400 yards. I hope the institutions involved take note, and at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo we can enjoy para-golf included amongst the Paralympic disciplines.Por Miguel Angel Buil