The International Canoe Federation has unveiled exciting changes for the 2023 competition season as athletes begin the qualification process for the Paris Olympics.
The ICF has scheduled Friday afternoon finals for several of the canoe sprint, paracanoe and canoe slalom competitions, to give athletes more opportunity to prepare for their events, and to provide exciting new windows for television and online viewers.
Under the new schedules, two of the most exciting events on the canoe sprint and slalom programs will now have their own exclusive competition windows on the Sunday of every event.
Kayak cross, which will make its Olympic debut in Paris in 2024, will now be the only event held on the Sunday of ICF World Cups and World Championships.
And the canoe and kayak sprint 5000 metre races will also be the main focus of Sunday afternoon competitions. The viewing numbers for the 5000 metre events on the canoe sprint program during the 2022 season underlined the popularity of the longer races.
ICF canoe sprint committee chair, Toshi Furuya, said the new schedules will provide an exciting build-up for the Paris Olympics.
“In 2023 the main focus for most of our elite athletes will centre around qualification for Paris, so we have designed an event schedule to maximise exposure for these outstanding competitors,” Mr Foruya said.
“We are also looking to build on the strong following we have for the 5000 metre races. We really want to build up this event to show how attractive it could be on the Olympic program.”
ICF canoe slalom committee chair, Jean-Michel Prono, said the decision to bring in Friday finals will have lots of benefits for the sport.
“Friday finals will hopefully relieve some of the stress for athletes who now compete in three events – kayak, canoe, and kayak cross,” Mr Prono said.
“And by making kayak cross the sole event on Sunday, we are showcasing this exciting event ahead of its Olympic debut in 2024. We are confident sport fans who have not already discovered this sport, will quickly fall in love with what we offer.”
The full ICF competition calendar can be found here.