AARHUS, Denmark (Reuters) - The rapidly growing popularity of stand up paddleboarding (SUP) has led to an unlikely battle for control, with surfing and canoeing both claiming it as an off-shoot of their own sport against a backdrop of possible Olympic inclusion.
The International Surfing Association (ISA) has organized competitions for years in SUP, a sport where athletes stand on a board and move forward using a long paddle.
But the International Canoe Federation (ICF) says the use of the paddle automatically makes SUP, spreading quickly across the world’s beaches, part of its organization.
“Up until last year there was no interest from the ICF,” ISA President Fernando Aguerre told reporters on Wednesday. “The interest arose when we were to bring SUP to the (2018) Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.”
“We have a track record of doing this. At the ICF now there is an interest of how they can be part of the popularity of the sport.”
Surfing is one of five new sports to be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and Aguerre said the ISA had unsuccessfully tried to include SUP in those Games as a surfing discipline.
ICF Secretary General Simon Toulson rejected Aguerre’s comment about his organization’s recent arrival to the sport.
“The ICF has been involved in SUP for a number of years and did not start last year,” Toulson told Reuters.
“Many of our federations have SUP recognized by their National Olympic Committees running national and international competitions.”
“The reason it came to light was when ISA tried to get it into Tokyo and Buenos Aires the ICF objected stating that they were not the definite sport authority,” Toulson said.
The two federations met with the International Olympic Committee a few months ago to iron out differences. But a solution has yet to be found and ISA’s Aguerre said no new talks have been planned.
“ICF statutes state clearly that a person using a paddle as a main form of propulsion whilst on a craft in water is canoeing/paddling,” Toulson said.
“We have met with ISA on several occasions in the last two years and offered compromises which have all been rejected. The issue is really which organization is responsible at Olympic level and that is what the dispute is over.”
Editing by Hugh Lawson