The International Canoe Federation is delighted to mark International Women’s Day with the announcement that there will be an equal number of male and female athletes and officials at the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics. 

This means gender equality has been achieved for the first time among the International Technical Officials (ITO) selected in Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom for an Olympic Games. 

A total of 48 ITOs have been chosen for Paris 2024, including 24 men and 24 women. 

Gender parity has also been reached in Paracanoe with nine male and nine female officials selected for the Paralympics. 

The announcement underlines one of the ICF’s key objectives as part of its Fit for Future strategy to champion inclusion and gender equality in all aspects of paddle sport. 

Major strides have been taken in recent years by the ICF, with an increase in the number of female delegates at the last Congress and more women chairing commissions.  

The ICF achieved gender balance in Olympic events for the first time at Tokyo 2020 following the inclusion the women’s C1 200 and C2 500 in Canoe Sprint and women’s C1 in Canoe Slalom. 

ICF President Thomas Konietzko said he was delighted that there will be gender equality across athletes and officials for Paris 2024. 

“It is crucially important that we ensure 50-50 representation across all levels of paddle sport,” said Mr Konietzko. 

“Our announcement today that there will be the same number of female and male officials at the Olympics and Paralympics is another significant milestone in our mission for gender equality. 

“We are working very hard to increase the number of women in leadership roles at international, national and club levels as this is vital for the future of our sport.” 

ICF Vice President Cecilia Farias is an experienced ITO, having been selected for six Olympic Games, including two on the jury. 

“I worked as an ITO at a time when the majority of the officials were men,” said Dr Farias. 

“My male colleagues have always been very respectful and professional and keen to share their experience with me. 

“Female officials have always been and will continue to be welcome within the ICF as we accept everyone. 

“It is fantastic that we have incorporated more young female ITOs for the Olympics.

“This not only shows strength in female participation but that we are making space for the new generation.” 

Among the officials heading to Paris will be Canada’s Erin Schaus who will become the first-ever female starter for Canoe Sprint at the Olympics. 

Schaus said she was relishing the opportunity to get into the starting shed at the Games. 

“I’m super excited and really looking forward to the Olympics,” said Schaus.  

“I know it will be stressful and challenging because I will want to do the best I can for the athletes, but I will be part of something special that not many people get the opportunity to do – it’s a wonderful opportunity.”  

Schaus is no stranger to creating history, having become the first starter at the Paralympics in Tokyo and the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in her home town of Dartmouth in 2022, where gender equity was also achieved for the first time. 

“Every time I have taken on a role it’s been a first,” said Schaus. 

“When I went to the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, it was the first time we had ever had a female starter. 

“A year later, I was the first female starter at a World Cup and then it was the first time at a Junior World Championships, a Senior World Championships and a Paralympic Games 

“The difference between when I started when they were trying to get gender equity to now having 50-50 is awesome. 

“There are more females in various roles, which is amazing to see.” 

Schaus said she had several male officials as role models when she started her career and now hopes to inspire more women to consider following her path. 

“By having gender equity among officials, it shows female athletes that there is another pathway to give back to the sport and stay involved when they finish their competitive careers,” added Schaus. 

“As an athlete, I was never going to make it to the Olympics, but I am making it in another capacity. 

“My background is in teaching and I have students at my canoe club who ask me: ‘Really, you can be an official and do all these amazing things?’ 

“I can only imagine how inspiring it is for younger athletes in other countries around the world that see these older females go to the Olympics as an official.”

Related links

Canoe Sprint
Canoe Slalom