Two-time world champion Sean Rice believes the 2020 ICF World Championships should be cancelled and that going ahead with this year’s event would be somewhat “disrespectful” given the COVID-19 pandemic currently impacting lives across the globe.

Rice, who will be defending his 2019 title if the event runs in Portugal in September as planned, told the upcoming first episode of The Paddler’s Pod with Sam & Macca that the integrity of the championships risks being compromised.

“I don’t believe it’s going to be safe for everyone and I don’t believe it’s going to be fair for everyone,” Rice explained. “And for that reason, I don’t think it’s necessary.”

“At the end of the day, paddlers’ health and safety needs to be first and foremost. Second to that is fair sport.

“When I look at it, quite clearly… the whole run up to this season is unfair.

“It’s very, very, very likely that all of the nations won’t be there.

“And for that reason, I don’t know why the World Champs are pushing to go.”

It’s another blow to the International Canoe Federation’s hopes of running the event, after Paddle Australia Chief Executive Phil Jones this week conceded it’s “pretty unlikely” to occur.

Rice, one of the most respected voices in the international surfski community admitted that, as it stands, he will not be able to compete.

While he respects the lengths and efforts that the relevant organisations are going to, he believes that if the World Championships run its prestige will be lost.

“If I line up and Cory isn’t there, or my brother isn’t there or Macca you’re not there, whoever… And I win, cool,” he says.

“But I’ll know, and everyone else will know, that it doesn’t mean anything.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

In his expansive conversation on The Paddler’s Pod with Sam & Macca, Rice also revealed the emotional journey he’s gone through during lockdown while considering his racing future.

“This may be a bit dramatic, but I’ve always approached seasons and specific races saying, ‘this could be the last time,’” he says.

“And that sounds awfully dramatic, but I’ve always tried to keep that sense of appreciation.

“Coming into the end of last year, I had a little think about it. Everyone’s lives are constantly changing, and I thought this may be one of my last years – then all of a sudden it was.

“Then I realised I actually want so much more out of my paddling, and I need it so badly.

“I need sport for my health both physically and mentally.”

And with COVID-19 restrictions now slowly being rolled back across the United Kingdom, where Rice resides, he’s more motivated than ever to get back in the boat.

“I reckon this break will prolong my career tremendously because I think I might have burned out a fair bit sooner otherwise.”

Hear the full conversation with Sean Rice on the first episode of The Paddler Pod with Sam & Macca coming soon.