Rio 2016 Canoe Slalom Format and Rules

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Canoe Slalom competition takes place at the Whitewater Stadium in the heart of the Deodoro complex and is set to run from the 7-11 August. Here is a rundown of the competition format and rules.

Olympic competition format

Canoe slalom at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games comprises three (3) men's and one women's (1) event:

Olympic competition format

Boat measurements


Min length

Min width

Min weight



Men and women





Canoe single






Canoe double





Competition consists of heats (best of two runs), a semi-final (one run) and a final (one run).

All results are presented in seconds and hundredths, and penalties in seconds.






Kayak (K1M) men

21 boats

15 boats

10 boats

Kayak (K1W) women

21 boats

15 boats

10 boats

Canoe single (C1M) men

19 boats

14 boats

10 boats

Canoe double (C2M) men

12 boats

11 boats

10 boats

These figures are fixed, however, there may be an extra boat in the heats under certain conditions.

Race distance and run duration

  • Minimum 200 metres.
  • The targeted run time is approximately 90 to 115 seconds.


The course must consist of a minimum of 18 gates and a maximum of 25 gates, of which at least six must be upstream gates.

The gates are 1.2 to 3.5 metres in width, measured between the poles, and must be negotiated in numerical order, starting from 1.

Gates with red and green rings painted on their poles must be negotiated upstream, those with green and white rings have to be negotiated downstream. Additionally, the numbers on the gates are crossed with a red diagonal line on the side opposite to that of correct negotiation.

The complete head of the competitor or competitors must cross the line between the poles in the correct direction and in accordance with the course plan.

Start interval

Start intervals are every three minutes for Olympic Games but can be variable at other ICF competitions.

Starting order

In the heats, athletes/boats start in the reverse order of their ICF canoe slalom world rankings, i.e. the highest ranked athlete starts last. In the semifinal, boats start in reverse order of the rank they obtained in the heats, and in the final in reverse order of the rank they obtained in the semifinal.

Differences between the ICF World Championships and the Olympic Games

At the Olympic Games each NOC is limited to one boat per event. At the International Canoe Federation (ICF) world championships, the number of participants in each event is maximum of three per National federation and the progression system is different.

There are no team competitions in the Olympic Games.

Changes since the London 2012 Olympic Games

An athlete that qualifies and is selected by their NOC for the Olympic Games can participate in more than one event in canoe slalom at the Olympic Games (including the event that they qualified in) as long as no other athlete/boat from their NOC is in that event.

Sport rules and procedures

Tiebreak rules and procedures

If two or more athletes obtain the same score for their best run in the heats, the score of their other run will resolve the tie. If still tied, the athletes share the ranking and all will qualify for the semifinal.

If athletes are tied in the semifinals, they are given the same ranking and all progress to the final.

Ties in finals remain and medals will be awarded as follows:

  • If two boats are tied for gold, both are awarded gold medals and no silver medal is awarded.
  • If three or more boats are tied for gold, all will be awarded gold medals and no silver or bronze medals will be awarded.
  • If two or more boats are tied for silver, all will be awarded silver medals and no bronze medal will be awarded.
  • If two or more boats are tied for bronze, all will be awarded bronze medals.


A two-second penalty is given to a boat that correctly negotiates a gate, but touches one or both poles.

A 50-second penalty is given to any boat that:

  • Intentionally pushes a gate to allow negotiation.
  • Negotiates a gate in the wrong direction.
  • Fails to negotiate a gate.
  • Negotiates a gate without the head and part of the boat in the gate line simultaneously.

In canoe slalom any boat may start in the second run in the heats, even if the boat did not start (DNS) or did not finish (DNF) the first run, or was disqualified for that run (DSQ-R).


For judging and timing matters, a team leader may make one enquiry per boat, per event, with no fee.

The chief judge will review all the available information when processing the enquiry. Whilst an enquiry is in progress there is a * against the score on the results display. Following the investigation of the enquiry the decision of the chief judge becomes a matter of fact, and cannot be protested further. An enquiry must be submitted within five minutes of the posting time of the competitor’s checklist result.

Team (boat) member changes

Not allowed (C2M).