The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has cleared the way for the International Canoe Federation to continue to run stand up paddling (SUP) events at national, international and world levels.
The ICF was vindicated following the strong rejection by CAS of the International Surfing Association’s (ISA) claim that it had exclusive right to govern stand up paddling. CAS unanimously found that the ICF was within its rights, as it has always maintained, to develop and host stand up paddling activities and competitions worldwide.
The CAS decision follows a long dispute between the ICF and the ISA over the governance of SUP and confirms both the ICF and the ISA can continue to run SUP events.
In an unconventional move, the majority of the CAS panel indicated (with one Panel member dissenting) that the ISA should have responsibility for running SUP at Olympic level in the future if SUP is eventually recognised as an Olympic sport. It is surprising that the CAS panel felt that they could reach such a decision without the involvement of the IOC, as the recognition of an International Federation as the administrator of an Olympic sport is traditionally a matter for the IOC.
However, the ICF welcomes the clear statement by CAS that its decision is not binding upon the IOC. The IOC is ultimately free to make its own decision about who should govern SUP as an Olympic sport, taking account of what is in the best interests of the sport at the relevant time, without being fettered by today’s CAS Award.
Behind the ICF’s long-term vision for SUP and core to this dispute has been the notion that resources from both international federations can and should develop the discipline of stand up paddling and make it an exciting and attractive sport at all levels.
ICF president, Jose Perurena, said the decision presents an opportunity for two Olympic federations to work together to grow a sport.
“We are pleased and feel vindicated that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has recognised the important role the International Canoe Federation has played in the development of stand up paddling and that it is free to continue this role worldwide” Mr Perurena said.
“The CAS decision presents an opportunity for two Olympic federations, the ICF and the ISA, to work together to promote a sport. SUP is one of the fastest growing and most exciting sports on the planet, and it is the responsibility of both our federations to give it the best possible opportunity to reach its full potential.”
The decision also means national canoe federations can continue to hold SUP events without any interference or objection from ISA or its national members, which will help the development of the sport at grass root level.
The CAS decision clears the way for the ICF to hold its next SUP world championships, scheduled for Balatonfured in Hungary in 2021, and decide on two future editions which have been put on hold due to the ongoing CAS case.
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