Surfing and canoeing federations in dispute over control of StandUp Paddle
By Jonathan Rest at SportAccord
A dispute between the International Surfing Association and the International Canoeing Federation over the governance of the StandUp Paddle discipline shows little signs of abating, despite the intervention of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
In an angry Instagram posting this week, ISA president Fernando Aguerre said that a “federation that doesn’t have a history with the sport, is claiming the sport.”
The issue dates back to 3 August, 2016 when surfing was accepted as one of five additional sports for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (along with baseball-softball, karate, sport climbing and skateboarding).
The ISA then applied to Buenos Aires 2018, the organising committee of next year’s Youth Olympics, to fast-track SUP on to the sports programme, only to be denied, it claims, by the ICF.
A two-hour meeting between the ISA and ICF, hosted by Bach in January, failed to yield an agreement, and no more talks mediated by the IOC are planned, Sportcal understands.
Aguerre, who maintains the relationship with the ICF is “cordial”, said the canoe federation had shown “no interest” in SUP before surfing became an Olympic sport.
He explained: “The ISA started running SUP in 2009. It was invented by surfers on the north shore of Hawaii as a training exercise when the waves were flat. SUP racers deem themselves to be surfers. We run world championships every year.
“We fast-tracked the process to Buenos Aires... but the ICF said ‘no, we have an issue, it’s a paddle sport, we believe it should be part of our organisation’. It’s not a part of their organisation. If you look at their website or list of disciplines, it was not included at the time. There was no activity from the ICF. It’s not like we are competing against each other like you see in a lot of sports. All these years, SUP world championships have been unchallenged.”
The ICF, on the other hand, claims ISA announced SUP as its discipline without consultation, and disputes allegations it blocked SUP’s place on the Youth Olympics programme. It maintains it offered to organise SUP at Buenos Aires 2018 in partnership with ISA, but that is not permitted by the IOC.
Aguerre had a "productive" 45-minute meeting with ICF president Jose Perurena yesterday on the sidelines of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations meeting in Aarhus, Denmark, but did not divulge details.
He said: “We exchanged views in a very friendly way. It’s a good communication. I’m good friends with Jose Perurena and [ICF vice-president] Tony Estanguet. It’s all about trying to figure out what is the win-win for everybody.
“We have an obligation to hear each other and see if there are any benefits to working together. We are very clear about the history of our sport. When there is a conflict, both parties believe they have merit. That is why we are talking.”
The ISA had proposed two options for inclusion at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but only traditional surfing was accepted, not SUP.