(ATR) The International Canoe Federation (ICF) has had to juggle to try a program for Paris 2024 with quality, attractive and universal.
This position is as a result of the parameters set by the International Olympic Committee: reduction of 12 quotas, the same number of Tokyo medals and the proposal of Paris 2024 to include the Extreme Slalom
On Thursday the ICF Executive Board readjusted quotas and distances, of the 10 Sprint events and the Extreme Slalom within the Slalom program, in the Parisian appointment in four years.
The ICF had to analyze, debate and vote for these radical changes in a race against the clock after the IOC informed on November 9 that the federation had to reduce 12 quotas without additional medals.That proposal was to be received by the Olympic Program Commission in November.
The two events proposed by the ICF Technical Commission that would be left out of the Paris 2024 program are the K1 200 meters for men and women. This distance had been introduced in the 2012 London Olympics.
With this proposal, the Paris 2024 program will include 10 sprint events (instead of the 12 in Tokyo),and six in slalom with the two in extreme slalom.
The Parisian organizers had opted for the inclusion in the extreme slalom program within their approach to guaranteeing an Olympic product oriented to young people, attractive and innovative
Around the Rings learned that former canoeist Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee, attended these virtual debates in his capacity as a member of the ICF Executive Board but did not participate in the vote on the proposals.
Tokyo 2020 will see an equal number of events and quotas for men and women for the first time in canoeing.
Next Monday the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, will announce in a video conference the final program for Paris 2024 after the first day of week-long meetings of the IOC Executive Board, ATR learned.
The IOC will also report on the quota reductions after analyzing the proposals for the Summer IFs and will give their decision on the four additional sports proposed by Paris 2024 - breakdance, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing - for which no surprises are expected.
To compensate for the addition of 248 athletes who will compete in these supplementary sports, and preserve the figure of 10,500 total athletes, the IOC demanded a reduction in quotas, especially by International Federations of individual sports.
In canoeing the two sprint medals were transferred to the Extreme Slalom "but not the quotas that have come out of the Slalom", the president of the ICF,José Perurena of Spain, clarifies to ATR.
With five events per gender remaining for Paris, the sprint "will have a greater number of quotas per event and more participation," says Perurena.
The ICF president acknowledges that there were protests from a score of countries and an equal number of athletes for this decision, including that of the president of the Athletes' Commission, Tim Lodge of Great Britain, who published his statement on the federation's own official website. Lodge is also a member of the Technical Commission and the Executive Board.
"We are going to explain to each athlete individually, to each of the national federations. They are not punitive measures but technical based on the instructions of the IOC," said Perurena
"The Executive Bureau did everything possible but in the Olympic Program the rules are set by the IOC, not the Federation.
"Today everyone has agreed for a better program."
A week ago the Technical Committee met with virtually all specialists including representatives from the five continents and determined two options for virtual voting for the Executive Board, one with 12 sprint events and four slalom events without extreme slalom, and the another with 10 sprint events, four slalom and two extreme slalom.
A tense debate led to a 14-14 vote and a "casting vote" was required from the ICF president who ruled in favor of the second proposal.
It is believed that this second option will favor the aspirations of numerous NOCs participating in the continental games of the Americas, Africa and Europe, which guarantees better universality of the measure.
The ICF estimates that the addition of the new discipline to the Olympic calendar for both men and women, in addition to not requiring additional athlete quotas, will increase the likelihood that many of the slalom canoe competitorsand from the Freestyle and Wildwater disciplineswill also enter in the extreme competition.
Perurena reiterated that it was a very difficult decision to make, but with the parameters set by the IOC we had no other possibility in the Olympic canoe program.
"This decision allows the ICF to maintain its core strengths and at the same time bring innovation and diversity to the 2024 Olympic program," he said.
"Extreme slalom can be part of the future of our sport and we know that it will be a perfect fit for the Olympics.
"It's fast, popular with athletesand viewers alike, and it looks great on television. It fits very well within the IOC trend to present new adrenaline-fueled events that attract a younger audience."
Extreme slalom also conforms to the IOC requirement that sports strive to get more value from their venues. It will be contested on the slalom canoe track and will add extra days to the Olympic slalom calendar.
Written and reported by Miguel Hernandez
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