Water Sports

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Will Standup Paddling Become an Olympic Sport After All?

10 Jul, 2019

By: Michael Popke

Standup paddling (SUP) might become an Olympic sport by 2024, as a dispute over who controls the sport appears to be nearing its end. The dueling parties are the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Canoe Federation (ICF), which turned over the decision of who runs the burgeoning sport to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

That’s a lot of acronyms, but everything comes down to this:

“We are waiting to see what happens with the CAS arbitration, which is unfortunate for everybody,” Tristan Boxford, chief executive of the Association of Paddlesurf Professionals, recently told Reuters. “Now we are late for Paris [host of the 2024 Summer Olympics], but it’s still possible. I was in Lausanne the other day and I had a good conversation with the [International Olympic Committee] guys there, who said it was still possible to get this resolved and we could get fast-tracked to Paris.”

The APP backs the ISA as the true governing body of the sport, reports Inside the Games.

As Reuters notes, “it is easy to see why a dispute arose, as the sport has elements of surfing and kayaking, with participants standing on a board propelling themselves forward with a paddle which, according to the ICF, means it should fall under its auspices.”

The addition of standup paddling to the Olympics would inject new energy into Games program, according to Boxford. “[The IOC] love[s] the idea of it,” he said. “[T]hey love the younger feel. If they had the opportunity to have the world’s best stand-up paddlers battling it out down the River Seine, it would be fantastic.”

Boxford added that the sport’s appeal lies in its accessibility, learnability and flexibility, as SUP can be enjoyed on rivers, lakes and oceans.

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