At their meeting on 13th February, the Board of Paddle Australia (PA) made the difficult decision to support a recommendation that the 2021 PA Canoe Sprint Championships, scheduled for 17 – 21 March 2021, should be postponed.
The decision, taken consistent with the criteria published by PA in July 2020 and after input from the PA Canoe Sprint Technical Committee, was taken mainly due to the current uncertainty surrounding the ability of participants from all states in Australia to travel to and from the competition venue in March. The view of the Board was that a delay in the staging of the Championships would mean a greater likelihood of athletes and their families being able to travel without restrictions. This, in turn, will create the best opportunity for a high-quality event to be hosted for Canoe Sprint paddlers in Australia.
Paddle Australia recognises that sprint paddlers want to go racing! Accordingly, unless the situation with COVID-19 deteriorates significantly, the 2021 PA Canoe Sprint Championships will take place 20 – 23 May 2021 at Sydney International Regatta Centre, Penrith. If travel restrictions in some states, or between states, mean that some athletes are unable to attend, the competition may not have the status of a National Championships but it will go ahead. This decision will be taken closer to the date of the competition.
Obviously there is considerable uncertainty as to whether the scheduled ICF Junior/U23 and ICF World Championships will take place in 2021 and indeed if they do, whether Australians will be able to travel to these competitions. Notwithstanding this, PA considers it is important that Australian Teams are selected, particularly for the Junior and U23 categories. Selection Criteria have been published for the teams concerned and, at this stage, it is the intention that the 2021 PA Canoe Sprint Championships will be the basis for selection of these teams. Given Paralympic selection is also impacted by this decision, further consultation will be conducted with coaches and athletes as to the best selection approach for those paracanoe athletes to ensure optimal preparation for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Paddle Australia looks forward to welcoming athletes and their families to a celebration of Sprint paddling at the 2021 PA Canoe Sprint Championships from 20 – 23 May 2021.
Updates on the status of all Paddle Australia National Level Competitions can be found here.