The opportunity for athletes to become both an Olympic and world champion in the same calendar year for the first time in International Canoe Federation history will be one of many highlights in what is set to be the busiest year on record for paddlers around the world.
An already action-packed international 2021 ICF calendar has had the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics added to a schedule which includes more than ten world championships.
It is usual in an Olympic year for there to be no canoe sprint or slalom world championships, meaning the unique situation in 2021 will provide an opportunity for athletes to make medal-winning history.
The canoe sprint and paracanoe world championships will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, while the canoe slalom world championships will take place in Bratislava, Slovakia. Both will take place after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"2020 was such a tough year for everyone involved in our sport, so the opportunity to get out onto the water again this year can’t come soon enough," ICF president Jose Perurena said.
"Obviously the health and safety of everyone in our canoeing community remains our number one priority, and we will continue to follow the advice of medical experts and the guidelines of local authorities.
"But if the experts are correct, and new vaccines will allow some return to normality, then we are ready to put on a show like never before. Everyone, from the athletes and event organisers to the hundreds of volunteers around the world, wants to get back to what we do best – putting on outstanding international competitions."
The 2021 canoeing calendar boasts world titles across nearly all disciplines, including the second ICF stand up paddling world championships, scheduled for Hungary in June, and the 2021 extreme canoe slalom world championships in Bratislava in September.
Extreme canoe slalom is set to make its Olympic debut in Paris in 2024.
World championships this year will also be contested in ocean racing, freestyle, dragon boat club crew, wildwater, marathon and polo. There will also be world titles in junior and U23 and masters competitions in several disciplines.
"The forced cancellation or postponement of so many events in 2020 has provided us with a wonderful opportunity in 2021 to showcase the breadth and depth of the paddling world," Mr Perurena said.
"In many cases athletes have had an extra 12 months to prepare for their premiere event, and coupled with their hunger to get back into international competition, we are sure we will see a level of action like never before."
In addition to world championships, the ICF will host several world cup events during 2021 across several disciplines. The calendar also includes final Olympic and Paralympic qualifying events on several continents, and the rescheduled ICF canoe sprint Super Cup, set down for Oklahoma in the United States.
The full ICF 2021 event calendar can be found here.
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