Organisers of the opening ICF canoe slalom world cup in Prague this weekend have thanked the sport’s fans for their understanding as they prepare to race without crowds over the three days of competition.

Canoe slalom usually attracts a capacity crowd at Prague’s Troja course, but because of Covid-19 restrictions this weekend’s racing will be held without fans.

“Covid cases are falling in the Czech Republic and people feel that, fortunately, it is all over,” former Olympian Stanislav Jezek said.

“But we still have strict measures here. People sometimes curse us, but we have to deal with it. It’s a very ungrateful situationto be organising under these conditions, but we all hope in a year it will be a very different situation.”

The director of the local organising committee, Jiri Rohan, told a media conference on Thursday there would be 290 boats from 34 countries competing this weekend, making it a truly world class event.

But he said to make it possible, tough decisions had to be taken.

“We are worried that we had to close the area for spectators from Monday to Sunday,” Rohan said.

“It was not easy, wh have received complaints, but we are trying to met our needs. In the evening we open the area for pedestrians, but otherwise it is not possible to create a bubble.”

The ICF canoe and extreme slalom world cup begins on Friday and will run through until Sunday. Live streaming of the event can be seen on the ICF webpage.

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