To: Sprint Athletes, Families, and Coaches
Dear Sprint Community,
In these challenging and uncertain COVID-19 times, every sports Federation seeks to determine the best possible ways to prepare athletes for the Tokyo Olympic Games and 2021 season in general. Because of limited Canoe & Kayak Sprint racing opportunities in the U.S. in 2020, our coaches have ascertained that racing in Europe during the Summer/Fall of 2020 would offer our athletes a chance to assess their current readiness and create incentives to prepare for the next season.
The Hungarian National Canoe Federation has confirmed the plan to host the annual Olympic Hopes Regatta (OHR) in Szeged, Hungary, from September 17-20, 2020. The OHR competition has been expanded to include the 18 year old athletes in 2020. Also, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) announced on June 29 that it intends to organize the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Szeged, Hungary, from September 23-27, 2020.
The ACA has secured an exception from the Slovenian Government that allows the U.S. Canoe & Kayak athletes, coaches, and support staff (family members) to enter Slovenia. The first group of the U.S. Canoe & Kayak Slalom athletes arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on June 24. This group is in 14-day quarantine during which they can train twice daily, including on the water.
As you can imagine, traveling in times of COVID-19 is not the same as before. Besides additional controls that airlines and governments have implemented before boarding flights to Europe to ensure that everyone has all the required paperwork, the ACA staff cannot assume supervisory responsibility for the Junior and Young adult athletes during the global pandemic. Therefore, we expect that athletes from each club will be accompanied by a “Club guardian” on training trips to Europe. The guardian is responsible for the club athletes from departure until returning home and needs to carry a medical release form for each of the club’s athletes. He/she is responsible for the athletes in case of a medical emergency.
In addition to standard pre-trip documentation (e.g., Code of Conduct, Safesport, STEP, NCIS Background Check, etc.), each member of the U.S. Canoe & Kayak delegation also signs the new ACA Waiver and Release of Liability before departure. Please be advised that the delegation members may be subject to quarantine upon their return to the U.S. per the federal, state, and local laws and regulations in effect at the time of reentry.
Only athletes and coaches can expect to receive the official race accreditation. Parents and the official club guardians cannot anticipate getting the race accreditation, except permit to ride on a bus to/from the venue.
If a sufficient number of athletes/families and staff indicate their readiness to travel to Europe this summer, the ACA will organize the necessary supporting documents, accommodations, appropriate training facilities, and boats in alignment with the USOPC’s COVID-19 training considerations. Also, we plan to arrange with the responsible local authorities for on the water training during the quarantine. If we cannot secure favorable training conditions during the quarantine, including on the water training, the U.S. Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team will not travel to Europe in 2020.
For the OHR, athletes would fly to Europe no later than August 31, and return on September 21st or 22nd. Those athletes that intend to compete only during the World Cup would fly to Europe on September 5th or 6th and return to the U.S. on September 28th or 29th. The extra days in Europe are required to ensure the time necessary for the 14-day quarantine before competition.
Please consider personal risks vs. rewards before committing to traveling to Europe for the OHR and the World Cup. The registration for both regattas is open until July 10, 2020.
For additional information, please visit the National Sprint Team website, here.
In sport and health,
Rok Sribar, Ph.D.
ACA General Manager High-Performance Programs