2020/21 National Competition Calendar Update

In conjunction with the various Discipline Technical Committees (DTCs), Paddle Australia has been working to progress the calendar for National Level Competitions for the 2020/21 season. There is no doubt that these are challenging times for organising competitive sport and PA is extremely grateful for those who continue to dedicate their time to finding competition opportunities for our community. We also offer our support in particular to the Victorian paddling community, in this difficult time for paddlers in Victoria and the state generally.

With the exception of two of the Disciplines, the provisional calendar for the coming domestic season has been set.

The schedule of National Level Competitions is as follows:

Competition Date Location
PA Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 1 11-13 Dec 2020 West Lakes, SA
PA Wildwater Canoeing Championships 1-3 Jan 2021 Mitta Mitta, VIC
PA Canoe Slalom Championships 8-10 Jan 2021 Bradys, TAS
PA Canoe Slalom Age Championships 15-17 Jan 2021 Eildon, VIC
Sydney International Whitewater Festival including PA Canoe Freestyle Championships & PA Canoe Slalom Australian Open 12-14 Feb 2021 Penrith Whitewater Stadium, NSW
PA Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 19-21 Feb 2021 Sydney International Regatta Centre, NSW
PA Canoe Sprint Championships 17-21 Mar 2021 Sydney International Regatta Centre, NSW
PA Canoe Marathon Championships 26-28 Mar 2021 Geelong, VIC
PA Canoe Polo Championships TBC TBC
PA Canoe Ocean Racing Championships TBC TBC

With respect to the two remaining Disciplines:

  • Canoe Polo is finalising a plan which involves holding the National Championships in the second half of 2021; and
  • Ocean Racing already has a proposal before the PA Board, which is currently pending due to uncertainty around other dates for key Ocean Racing competitions around the country.

As would be appreciated, there are no guarantees that any or all of these competitions will proceed as planned. As the country continues to struggle in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, we are confronted with a very fluid situation not just for paddling but for the broader community. The intention of PA at this time is to be as transparent as possible regarding the decision making process around the hosting of National Level Competitions.

Criteria for Assessing Events

In assessing whether to proceed with running a particular competition, a number of criteria will be taken into consideration. The impact or importance of each of the criteria may vary from competition to competition. These criteria are:

  • Safety: First and foremost, the holding of a competition must not increase the health risk to either participants or the general population. In particular, consideration must be given to the fact that National Championships will by definition include interstate travel: is it responsible for PA to ask people to travel interstate when such travel may include use of flights or other modes of transport which may otherwise be avoided?
  • Ability to compete: For an event to hold National Championship status, PA believes that all states must be able to participate. This means that if one state is restricted from participating in a competition, whether due to travel or other local restrictions, then National Championship status of that event will be removed. For example:

– If the Paddle Australia Wildwater Canoeing National Championships are scheduled to take place on 1-3 January and one or more states is prevented from travelling to Victoria at that time, the event can no longer be called a National Championship. It would be open to the Hosts to continue to run a wildwater canoeing event at that time, should it be compliant with local requirements, however there would be no National Champions determined at that event. The Paddle Australia Wildwater Canoeing Technical Committee may then determine to either cancel the National Championships or seek to postpone to a later time and place.

– Conversely, if the Paddle Australia Sprint Grand Prix 1 is scheduled to take place on 11-13 December and one or more states is prevented from travelling to South Australia at that time, that competition may proceed as scheduled (as it is not a National Championship) subject to it meeting the other criteria discussed in this paper.

  • Ability to train: From a competition integrity perspective, all athletes must have the ability to undertake event specific training in the lead up to a National Championships, or any National Level Competition that involved selection to a National Team. Various disciplines will have different training requirements, however it is recognised that simply being able to paddle solo will not be sufficient in all cases. To give an example, event specific training for Canoe Polo will require teams to be able to train as a team, with body contact between participants permitted to the same level as would be the case at the National Championships. PA’s position at this time is that all participants must be able to take part in event specific training no less than eight weeks prior to the competition in question.
  • Ability to travel: It is appreciated that there are logistical hurdles to be navigated when competing in National Level competitions and that planning for such competitions requires time. PA’s position is that all participants must be able to arrange travel to the subject competition (including transport of craft, if required) no less than six weeks prior to the competition in question. Included in this consideration is any quarantine requirement which may be in effect – while it may be possible to travel to the location of the competition, interstate travellers may then be subject to a period of self-isolation which is impractical for athletes preparing for a National Level Competition.
  • Ability of the Host to fulfil its obligations: The DTCs are acutely aware of the human resources required to host National Level competitions. If a competition relies on a significant portion of the volunteer workforce travelling from interstate, for example, and there are concerns about the likelihood of that volunteer cohort making an interstate trip, then it may not be possible to conduct a competition at the standard required of a National Level Competition.
  • Local restrictions: As different states move through their COVID-19 responses at different rates, there may be local considerations which mean that a National Level Competition cannot proceed in the usual way. An example might be a local restriction that limits gatherings to groups of no more than 50 people.

PA will make ongoing assessments of the feasibility of each National Level Competition taking into account the above criteria, in conjunction with both the relevant DTC and the Competition Host. Competitions will be deemed to be going ahead until and unless otherwise notified by PA on the PA website. Eight weeks prior to the start of the subject competition, the status of that competition will be confirmed on the PA website. This communication will also note that PA reserves the right to postpone or cancel a National Level Competition subsequent to this advice, should it be necessary due to changing circumstances.

Finally, all members of the community should be discouraged from making any travel or other plans around paddling competitions which involve non-refundable payments or deposits. Unfortunately, participants will not be able to make a claim through PA insurance for any losses sustained as a result of PA postponing or cancelling a competition.