The chair of the ICF Athletes Committee, Tim Lodge, met representatives of the IOC to discuss the changes to the Paris 2024 canoeing programme. Below is a statement following the meeting.

There has been unrest within the athlete community since the ICF board’s decision to include extreme slalom and reduce the events in sprint for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

As chair of the athletes committee, I wanted to present the issues of the athlete community to the IOC and see if there was an opportunity to change the decision and include extreme slalom but with no loss of medal events.

I researched who best to speak to within the IOC and prepared a statement based on the discussions I have had with the athlete community. The statement was received by the IOC last week and they arranged a meeting with myself and the following staff within the IOC to discuss the matter.

Danka Barteková, IOC Athletes Commission Vice Chair

Kit McConnell, IOC Sports Director 

Niccoló Campriani, Senior Sports Intelligence Manager 

Kaveh Mehrabi, Associate Director, Athletes and Olympians Relations 

Karen Doplhin, IOC Athletes Commission Manager 

During the meeting I presented all of the views that I and my committee have received about the situation.  We discussed the timeline of events that led to the ICF Board making their decision.  The main issue that we have had is timely consultation of such a dramatic change to the program for Paris.  We raised concerns that the ICF was only informed in November that no new medals would be available for Paris 2024, even though the extreme slalom proposal did not require any additional athletes.

Our discussions confirmed the timing, and I am afraid to say that the IOC is reluctant to make any changes. While the ICF’s bid fitted the criteria as set out in the Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC is determined to keep the number of Games medals at around 310.

I am sure this isn’t the news that many if you had hoped for, but please rest assured that I have done my best to put forward your views to see if a change was possible.  I have also agreed a line of communication with the IOC to be informed of major changes in future which is in addition to my existing channels from the ICF.

Please read the statement below sent back to me from the IOC to confirm the timeline of events and why they made the decisions that they did relating to the change in program.

A further release will be sent out this week to confirm the new program after the IOC has made their final decision of the programming of all events for all sports for Paris 2024. 

Statement from IOC

Many thanks again for the meeting on Thursday, we appreciate you coming to us and the very open discussion to share information in the regard to the principles for the finalisation of the Paris 2024 event programme.

Following our call, we would like to provide further details that you can share with your athletes’ community.

Framework of the Paris 2024 event programme

The framework of the Paris 2024 event programme and athlete quotas reflect the Olympic Charter, Olympic Agenda 2020 and the New Norm. 

With the change to an event-based Olympic programme through Olympic Agenda 2020, Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter states that the programme of the Olympic Games shall comprise of approximately 10,500 athletes and 310 events. Olympic Agenda 2020 also clearly lays out the need to embrace gender balance, introduce innovation with a youth focus, promote sustainability, and reduce overall Games cost and complexity.

This athlete and event framework were further reflected in the following key principles established by the IOC Executive Board on 18 July 2018 and further reiterated on 10 June 2020 upon recommendation of the Olympic Programme Committee (these were reflected in an IOC press release of the same date):

  • Reducing the overall athlete quota (including for all new sports) to 10,500.
  • Achieving gender equal participation across the Olympic Games at event and discipline level where possible.
  • Prioritising new events that accommodate athletes within the sport’s existing quota allocation.  
  • New events only if there are existing venues.

The exceptional situation caused by COVID-19 pandemic led both the IOC Executive Board and the Paris 2024 Coordination Commission to commit to further strengthening the sustainability reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 with a strong emphasis on the New Norm. 

In June 2020 the IOC Executive Board therefore also reiterated the vital importance of reducing the cost and complexity of hosting the Olympic Games. This underlined the importance of avoiding the growth of the Olympic Programme in the current landscape as part of the wider approach to Games optimisation and making the Games fit for a post-Corona world.

Process and timeline

The timeline for the definition of the Paris 2024 event programme was originally approved by the IOC Executive Board in June 2017 and targeted a final decision of the IOC Executive Board in December 2020. This approach aligned with the original dates for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2020, allowing any necessary Games-time observation, and was compliant with Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter, which specifies that the IOC EB must finalise the event programme no later than three years out from the Olympic Games.

The postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to 2021 made it was necessary for the timeline to be reviewed. The review considered the impact on and feedback from key stakeholders, including the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, IFs, NOCs and, of course, the athletes.

Following this feedback, on 10 June 2020 the IOC Executive Board decided to maintain the previously set deadline of December 2020 in order to provide certainty to all the involved parties, so that they could plan accordingly. This will help athletes to plan, prepare and secure funding from the appropriate bodies, while Paris 2024, IFs and NOCs will be able to advance with their venue, financial and logistical planning.

The key steps in the approved and confirmed process were the following: 

  • 28 February 2020       Deadline for submissions of IF questionnaires

By this date the Olympic International Federations had to submit to the IOC any proposals for changes of events, athlete quotas and competition formats. Please note that the request for inclusion of the two (2) Extreme Canoe Slalom events was part of this official submission by ICF.

  • March - November 2020        IF/Paris2024 consultation

Follow up discussions with IFs and the Paris 2024 Organising Committee to assess the value add and cost and complexity of the proposed new events, as well as reviewing the current programme. This consideration was flagged to all IFs that put forward a request of additional events, giving them the opportunity to decide whether the priority would be to confirm the current event programme or consider an event replacement in order to maintain the same number of events from Tokyo 2020.

  • 7-11 December 2020      IOC Executive Board meeting

The IOC Executive Board is due to finalise the composition of events and athlete quotas for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, including consideration of the events in the four additional sports proposed by the Organising Committee, considering recommendations from the Olympic Programme Commission.

In regard to the impact on the athletes, we fully understand that any changes to an Olympic event programme bring new opportunities to one group of athletes while being less favourable with others. However, in the case of the changes confirmed by the ICF, I understand that Extreme Slalom was part of the original proposal put forward by the ICF in February 2020 and also understand that with Sprint Canoe retaining 10 Olympic medal events the majority of spring Canoe athletes impacted still have a pathway towards Olympic qualification and medal opportunities. 

We thank you again for the very open discussions on this subject and look forward to this continuing on all other areas where the IOC Athletes’ Commission can support your athletes. 

S pozdravom/ With my best regards, 

Mgr. Danka Barteková, PhD., OLY

International Olympic Committee Member, Athletes' Commission Vice- Chair 

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