After months of uncertainty and deliberation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Canoe Federation has now cancelled the 2020 Ocean Racing World Championships.

The ICF’s Ocean Racing Committee met on June 23 and formed a recommendation that the event, scheduled to run in Portugal in early September, be abandoned.

That resolution was accepted by the ICF’s board at its latest meeting on June 27, before waiting a further two days to make it public.

The obvious safety concerns to athletes and officials were key to the event’s cancellation, however it was the border restrictions currently in force around the world that forced its hand.

In a statement released on its website, the ICF acknowledges that it sought to do “whatever it could to return to competition, for the well being not only of the sport, but of society in general.”

But it ultimately decided that “the health and safety of athletes and officials remains the number one priority.”

It follows conjecture from around the surfski community about whether the event should proceed.

Two-time world champion and the current men’s title holder Sean Rice told The Paddler that going ahead with this year’s event would be somewhat “disrespectful” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month Paddle Australia CEO Phil Jones conceded his organisation would be unable to send a team overseas, a position that appeared at odds with Canoeing South Africa, after its Secretary General Colin Simpkins declared if the nation’s athletes were given a vote, “everyone would say, ‘let’s go.’

However a number of South African athletes privately contacted The Paddler to dispute that suggestion.

Booth Training

It’s unclear whether the International Canoe Federation will reschedule future World Championships to allow Portugal a more immediate chance to play host.

The 2021 installment will run in Lanzarote in the Canary Island in mid-July, although this may be forced to change because of a date-clash with the Tokyo Olympics.

The 2022 World Championships has been awarded to New Zealand, while Australia will host the 2023 event.

The ICF has again been contacted for interview.