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  • Stand-Up Paddleboard for Paris 2024?


    (ATR) International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre is thrilled about the prospects for Stand-Up Paddleboard’s inclusion at future multi-sport events given the recent decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

    ISA is now the international federation for SUP at the Olympic level. (ATR)
    CAS ruled on August 6 that ISA shall be the international federation governing and administrating the sport of SUP at the Olympic level. The decision put to rest a longstanding dispute between ISA and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) over governance of the growing recreational and competitive water sport.

    “We wanted to have clarity of which is the Olympic international federation for the sport of SUP, so that ends all of the debate,” Aguerre tells Around the Rings on a phone interview from his home in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

    “At the Olympic level means, of course, in relation to the Olympic Movement with all the multiplicity of organizations. All levels, all the way to the national levels.

    “It is solved in a civilized way, in a clear way and in a black and white way,” Aguerre said of the decision, also noting that he received congratulations from IOC president Thomas Bach.

    “We can continue to work for the continued development of SUP, regardless of if it’s practiced on the waves or on flat bodies of water.”

    Aguerre believes that it’s not too late to propose SUP for the Paris 2024 Games. He says next steps would involve discussions with all relevant parties.

    “We would love to have SUP considered for inclusion in the Paris Games,” the surfing chief said. “Even if it is small participation of SUP, it would be a huge signal to the youth of the world, just like the inclusion of surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing were meant to be included in Tokyo.”

    The river Seine could be the SUP venue at Paris 2024. (ATR)
    “I know that the IOC is interested in keeping a rational number of athletes and being sure of venue costs, so there’s a lot of things that need to be reviewed.

    “It could be held on the river Seine,” Aguerre says enthusiastically. “You basically need a starting line and ending line and a few buoys, and I’m sure they will have buoys from some other sports.

    “It would be a very attractive field of play, with a very, very minimal investment.”

    The Argentine sports leader informs that SUP races on the Seine are not without precedent. He notes that the Association of Paddlesurf Professionals (APP) annually stages its tour finals for both pro racers and recreational paddlers in December, attracting more than 900 participants.

    “It’s an incredible race and it already proves that it works,” he said.

    The IOC approved the inclusion of surfing on the sports program for the Paris 2024 Games in late June, during its virtual 134th Session. Final ratification is scheduled for December, after the sport would have made its Olympic debut had the Tokyo 2020 Games not been postponed. It appears surfing is on a wave toward long-term Olympic inclusion, providing future possibilities for SUP as well.

    SUP, under the ISA, was on the program at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. (Panam Sports)
    Aguerre says if not for the rift with the canoe federation, SUP would have already made its debut at both the Youth Olympic Games and World Beach Games.

    “They blockaded the inclusion of SUP in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, which was initially agreed and they blockaded the inclusion of SUP in our World Beach Games, which were delayed,” Aguerre said. “They failed to blockade the access of SUP, both racing and surfing, to the Pan American Games.”

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport also determined that ICF remains entitled to conduct all types of SUP activities outside of the Olympic Movement.

    “While some people might feel like the fact that we don’t have a worldwide monopoly over SUP is a setback – it’s not a setback because it’s always been like that,” Aguerre said. “The world is full of promoters and organizations recognized by the ISA and even some not, like other privateers that help develop SUP.”

    Aguerre says ISA is willing to cooperate with ICF for the continued development of the sport and in the best interest of its athletes.

    “I think we’ve been doing that in many countries – there are many national federations that have a peaceful co-existence and collaboration with the canoe and other federations,” Aguerre said. “It’s really up to the leaders of each organization.

    “On the international level, I always have a policy of open arms and have a cordial relationship, a friendly relationship, for many years with the president of the ICF.”

    ICF president Jose Perurena is more than willing to join forces with the ISA, telling ATR "it is time to work together for the worldwide development of SUP to get it into the Olympic Program as soon as possible".

    Aguerre optimistically looks forward to the next steps to continue to grow and develop the sport worldwide.

    “Now that this decision has been made on where do the waters flow, it’s time to work and I think it’s great that we all collaborate.”

    Homepage photo: ATR

    Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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