At the International Rafting Federation Congress in Miyoshi City, Japan in 2017, our national rafting federation members voted unanimously that the IRF should continue to pursue its dream of taking rafting to the Olympic Games. In pursuit of this dream, the Congress also agreed that the IRF must finalise the work needed to apply for recognition by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) at the earliest possible date.
GAISF (formerly known as SportAccord) is the gateway organisation through which Olympic recognition is managed – no International Federation is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) without first becoming a GAISF member. Meeting GAISF membership requirements is a rigorous task, requiring that the IRF supply detailed, substantiated proof that we are the international governing body of rafting sport. This proof can only be gained by many years of following GAISF policy guidelines prior to applying for membership.
At the time our application was submitted, there were 42 requirements that had to be met. This included hosting multiple years of World Rafting Championships and having a record of several years of WADA certified anti-doping testing of our competitors, among the other many requirements. GAISF does not put time limits on the review of membership applications – the review process can continue indefinitely based on multiple factors which are outside of our control.
Delays to our application occurred because GAISF had changes in their administration team due to the untimely death of GAISF President Patrick Baumann in October 2018. Additionally, a new online membership application system with additional evidentiary requirements was launched. These changes required us to restart and update our application. Following discussions at the 2019 annual SportAccord Conference between IRF President Jones, and GAISF, and with the IOC and the United Nations through current sport wide actions on climate change which the IRF have been involved in, GAISF have acknowledged our commitment to membership and have recognised that our interest in membership has been longstanding for many years.
GAISF have informed us they will review our application in October 2019. We are expecting news of the application in the next few weeks. In the meantime, we continue with all our work in raft racing, guide training and education, sustainability, conservation, and building the river family across the globe.
As always, the International Rafting Federation is, was and always will be the only legitimate governing body for rafting sport around the world. We will rightly defend our claim as such. We make no false promises of Olympic fast tracking – sports for the 2020 and 2024 Games have been revealed and rafting is not amongst them. We hope for positive news on our GAISF application but in the meantime, we continue to take positive steps in the global recognition of rafting and ask you to join us in the journey ahead.
I am. You are. We are. IRF
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