The International Canoe Federation has decided to retain the U23 age group for all world championships after a survey of member federations.

A proposal had been put forward to reduce the age limit from U23 to U21, but a majority of national canoe federations expressed a desire to retain the current age groupings. The decision was confirmed at the ICF board of directors meeting in Turkey last week.

The ICF board heard the federation continues to perform well financially, and had enjoyed a year of strong growth across all canoe disciplines. ICF secretary general Simon Toulson said there had been a sharp rise in the number of viewers, both online and on television.

The 2019 canoe slalom and canoe sprint and paracanoe world championships were the largest ever held, in terms of the number of athletes competing, the number of people watching, and in social media activity.

He said the ICF continued the agreement it had struck with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and in 2019 built up a strong partnership with leading European tv sport channel, Eurosport. Millions of people watched canoeing action during 2019, and the collaboration will be further expanded in 2020.

The board heard positive reviews of the Tokyo test events for slalom, sprint and paracanoe, with committee chairmen reporting the scene was set for successful Olympic competitions on world-class venues. Tickets for canoe slalom have already sold out.

Excessive heat was identified as one major concern, with the board stressing the importance of athletes and technical officials taking the opportunity to become acclimatised before their event.

Work is being carried out to develop a suitable boat to be used at the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Senegal. The venue for the competition will be coastal, with the ICF looking to develop a more suitable boat, possibly using recycled materials, which would be more appropriate for the venue and open water conditions.

In further changes agreed at the meeting, a world championships for non-Olympic events in both sprint and slalom will be held in 2020.

The sprint events, to be held in Szeged, Hungary, will be open to athletes not competing at the 2020 Olympics, providing an opportunity to keep athletes who did not qualify for Tokyo in the sport and able to compete at a major world championships.

The ICF board meeting also observed a one minute silence, in memory of former marathon committee chairman, Jorn Cronberg, who passed away this year.

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