President's Message Q2 2024

Thomas Konietzko

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to present the new ICF Newsletter to you today. Our aim is to showcase the numerous activities within our community, provide our dedicated officials with a platform to report on their work, and offer an overview of the diverse events in our disciplines.

One challenge we face is that while our disciplines are interconnected, they often remain distinct. Unfortunately, we have not yet succeeded in sufficiently publicising our athletes' achievements beyond their specific disciplines. This newsletter aims to highlight the accomplishments of our athletes across all disciplines, fostering a sense of unity within our canoeing community.

This newsletter is designed for all our stakeholders to regularly share their updates and is not intended to replace discipline-specific information. Everyone is welcome to contribute, though it is not mandatory. I encourage everyone to use this newsletter to disseminate important information. Additionally, we offer our National Federations the opportunity to share information relevant to the ICF community here.

Rio 2016 Canoe Slalom venue

In addition, the Olympic Games are approaching, and I had the opportunity to attend most of the continental qualifiers in person. The performances of the American athletes in the slalom qualification were impressive, and it was equally gratifying to witness the legacy of the Olympic course in Rio. When not being used for training, the locals can use the finish pool as a public pool, showcasing the added value and sustainability of our slalom courses.

The sprint qualifications in Sarasota were also remarkable. Beyond the athletes' performances, the competition course itself was stunning—one of the largest and most beautiful I have ever visited. This experience underscores our strategy of utilising new, previously unknown venues for competitions, particularly in the American and Asian continents, providing new opportunities for marketing paddling sport. Our SUP World Championships will be held here this fall, followed by our Junior and U23 World Canoe Sprint Championships next year.

ICF Columbus Georgia MoU signing Canoe Freestyle

From Sarasota, I traveled directly to Oklahoma, where I participated in a charity event benefiting the American slalom team. It was inspiring to see how the local community in Oklahoma supports their water park and athletes. There was significant feedback and support for our plans to use the competition course in Oklahoma for future high-level competitions.

During my visit to Oklahoma, I also signed a partnership agreement with representatives of the whitewater venue in Columbus. An ICF HUB for freestyle training and athlete education will be established there, which will serve our global freestyle community.

Among my many trips, I particularly remember the visit to Djibouti. Djibouti is a good example of how a few dedicated volunteers, with the support of the ICF, can popularise our sport and inspire children. The inclusion of canoeing in some schools' sports here is especially beneficial. The progress in Djibouti serves as a successful example of our adopted development strategy, demonstrating that the ICF's commitment, including financial support, is paying off.

Djibouti canoeing school sports

The final quota places have now been allocated, marking the end of the first half of our competition season. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the organisers for hosting top-class competitions. We are pleased to welcome several new countries to the Olympic Games, having secured quota places for the first time. This achievement highlights the success of our global development strategy, particularly in the Olympic disciplines.

However, we have once again seen how our sport is particularly impacted by climate change. The ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup in Augsburg took place amid heavy rain, with a disaster alert issued due to a historic flood. In Plattling, our freestyle athletes had to evacuate after the first World Cup as floods inundated the campsites.

Addressing the sustainability of our sport and climate protection must be one of our priority topics. In Paris, I attended the Alibaba Cloud summit and participated in a panel discussion with the group's president, where we elevated the partnership between ICF and Alibaba to a strategic level. Leveraging Alibaba's AI-driven technology, we can enhance the sustainability of our event delivery and operations.

ICF President Thomas Konietzko Alibaba Cloud Global Summit

There is good news from the Philippines and Uzbekistan, the two new venues for ICF World Championships. In Philippines, more than 20 nations have already confirmed their participation in the Dragon Boat World Championships, promising record participation and a significant boost for the sport within the ICF. Preparations for the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Uzbekistan are on track, and we can anticipate a highly professional competition in August. Around 40 nations have already confirmed their attendance. Thanks to the financial support from the Uzbekistan Federation and the Government, we can now offer rental boats at reasonable prices. A new bulletin with all the details will be published in the next few days.

I've received many questions about the upcoming Super Cup in Hangzhou over the last few days. We will be sending out invitations to athletes with all necessary information shortly so they can prepare for their participation in the five disciplines. Dragon Boat, featuring only Chinese crews, will be competing as the fifth discipline.

Due to the compact schedule required for the television broadcast of all five disciplines, we cannot accommodate additional athletes from countries other than China, except for the Canoe Marathon discipline. For the Canoe Marathon, we are pleased to invite interested athletes from all continents to compete for substantial prize money. However, athletes who wish to participate but do not receive an invitation will need to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.

ICF Hangzhou satellite office opening

On May 29, we officially opened our satellite office in Hangzhou, drawing significant media attention. We will start recruiting new employees in the next few days. This office will not only provide administrative support for our Asian association but will also focus on establishing the sustainability, digital media, and competition departments. We are aware that the workload in preparation for the Olympic Games will probably make it a little slow until the office is working efficiently, but we are confident that the additional human resources will help us to implement our FFF strategy very quickly.

Unfortunately, negotiations with the Hungarian Government have been delayed, but we are engaged in cooperative discussions regarding the details of their support.

We have finalized a new partnership agreement with BYD at their headquarters in Shenzhen. BYD, the world's largest manufacturer of electric cars, is also a leader in sustainable energy, and is now one the biggest sponsors of the ICF.

Our office and staff are currently focused on preparing for the Olympic Games. Everything is on track, and the competition venues in Paris are absolutely stunning. We can look forward to an exceptional Games. In addition to our Olympic competitions, we plan to use the Games to promote the diversity of our sport through various activities. We plan to invite stakeholders to experience the competition course from a unique perspective beyond that of a spectator, and the conditions have been created for Dragon Boat demonstration during the three final days of Canoe Sprint competitions. Furthermore, we want to use the Games to celebrate our centenary alongside the Olympic Movement. Our gratitude goes to the French Federation and its President for their support in all these activities.

By Thomas Konietzko, President of the ICF