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World va’a sprint champs cancelled

GISBORNE waka ama paddlers training for the world sprint championships in Hawaii have lost the event that was the focus of their efforts.

The 2020 International Va'a Federation (IVF) World Elite and Club Sprint Championships have been cancelled.

They were scheduled to take place at Hilo, Hawaii, in August.

The cancellation was due to the global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, a statement from the IVF said.

It was a mutual decision reached by the IVF and the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA).

The world championship regatta, held every two years, was a highlight on the international paddling calendar, and the 2020 event already had entries from 21 countries, the statement said.

Factors behind the decision to cancel included:

' The unknown timelines faced in terms of travel restrictions and the impact on everyday life.

' The overall health and safety of the global paddling community, in particular, Pacific Island member countries less equipped to deal with a health crisis and facing challenges in their healthcare systems.

' Effects on member countries already heavily impacted by Covid-19.

' The risk to the host region — the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association, the people of Hilo and the State of Hawaii in general.

“As an international federation, we have an obligation to ensure the safety of our membership and to act in their best interests and in the interests of the sport of va'a,” the statement said.

“We acknowledge and recognise the amount of work that HCRA and in particular their local organising committee have done in preparation for the August event.

“In addition, we acknowledge how much they wanted to welcome the global paddling community to Hilo Bay. Having done everything possible, they are now faced with impossible circumstances.”