International Canoe Federation President Thomas Konietzko will use his opening address to next week’s congress to urge all national federations to work together to overcome global challenges and to promote unity. 

Mr Konietzko, who will celebrate his first anniversary as President next week, will tell the ICF congress in Pattaya, Thailand, that it is now more important than ever that the international canoeing community speaks with one voice. 

He will praise the response of the canoe family to the war in Ukraine, and the generous support shown to Ukrainian athletes and their families. He will also endorse last week’s comments of IOC President, Thomas Bach, that now is not the time to ease or increase the sanctions against Russia and Belarus. 

But he will also remind the congress that the ICF went further than most with its actions. Read about the actions the ICF took here. 

“We decided with a heavy heart to suspend Russian and Belarusian athletes from our competitions,” Mr Konietzko will tell delegates from all over the world.  

“Our hearts were heavy because usually sanctions can and must be imposed on those responsible for wrongdoing, and it should not be athletes who should suffer for the decisions of a government. 

Mr Konietzko will acknowledge there are strong feelings among many national federations about what the next step should look like.  

“What we could not do, what was not covered by our rules, was a complete suspension of the Russian and Belorussian Federations,” he will say.  

“And I can say at this point that I think this was and is the right thing to do, because we should not burn all bridges and still have to stay in dialogue even when there are different opinions.” 

Several national federations have been housing Ukrainian athletes during the war, including Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and France. Others have donated equipment and financial support, enabling Ukrainian athletes to compete at ICF world championships and world cups throughout 2022. 

The ICF Congress will begin in Pattaya on Thursday next week and run through to Saturday. 

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