Published on June 22nd, 2022 | by Paddleworld

ICF strengthens partnership with Special Olympics

The International Canoe Federation and the Special Olympics have signed a memorandum of understanding to consolidate a partnership which has been in place for almost two decades.

ICF President Thomas Konietzko and executive board member John Edwards joined Special Olympics Chief of Sport and Competition, Lou Lauria, to sign the MOU in Berlin on Tuesday during the Special Olympics German National Games, a test event for next year’s Special Olympics World Games in the German capital.

Paddling made its first appearance at a Special Olympics World Games in Ireland in 2003, and has been a proud partner at every Games since. Mr Edwards said today’s MOU will help strengthen the partnership, and open doors for more paddlers around the world to take part.

“There are thousands of paddling clubs throughout the world,” Mr Edwards said.

“This agreement will be an encouragement to each one of those clubs to become inclusive community centres of paddling for all members of their community.

“The ICF welcomes this cooperation agreement with SOI and the potential to expand the number of SOI members participating in our great sport.”

More than 1000 sports around the world have aligned with the Special Olympics movement, giving athletes and members fantastic opportunities to enjoy the experience of competing against other international competitors.

“Special Olympics believes partnerships like this will inherently strengthen the ICF’s local kayaking programs and build its momentum as a rising sport within the movement around the world,” Mr Lauria said.

“Our ultimate goal is to send a strong message that true inclusion often comes to fruition by people coming together through the power of sport.”

ICF President Thomas Konietzko said even though the ICF already enjoyed a strong relationship with the Special Olympics movement, the MOU will further strengthen those bonds.

“We have seen at our world cup sprint and paracanoe events in Poznan this year and in 2019 fantastic demonstration races which showed us all what a difference these types of opportunities can make,” he said.

The 2023 Special Olympics World Games will be held in Berlin from June 17 to 25.

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