IRF position on the Russian government actions in Ukraine

As the globally recognised leader of the rafting community, the International Rafting Federation (IRF) is shocked and dismayed by the acts of aggression by the Russian government’s actions in its decision to order the invasion of Ukraine and the military assault on the Ukraine people. We have watched in horror as Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure have been wilfully targeted. Refugee officials report that more than a million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries as the war intensifies, representing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The IRF stands in full solidarity with the people of Ukraine against this onslaught.

The IRF Executive Committee have considered the views of athletes and national member federations in making proposals to the IRF Board of Directors (BOD) regarding the situation in Ukraine. The BOD met in an extraordinary session on 04 March to review the proposals.

One of the IRF’s key objectives is to promote Olympic values in order to place sport at the service of humanity for a better world. IRF competitions closely follow the Olympic and Paralympic models, while remaining true to the traditions and history of our sport. As a supporter of the Olympic Movement, we have reviewed and support the recent recommendations of the International Olympic Committee for all sporting federations to suspend Russian and Belarusian sports federations and teams from competition until further notice. We further recognise their condemnation of Russian and Belarusian governments breaching the Olympic Truce. The IRF BOD has voted overwhelmingly in favour of this suspension.

As a WADA Code Signatory, the IRF is already under resolutions to not permit Russian teams to compete in World Championship events under the flag or national anthem of Russia.

This decision follows the decision by the IRF President to suspend the current talks underway with Russia to host the IRF World Championships in 2024, and to suspend any future IRF competitions in Russia until further notice.

The IRF Board of Directors’ decision is as follows:

Based on Article 2.2, and under the authority of Article 19.2 and 19.3 of the IRF Bylaws, the following sanctions are enacted as a result of Russia’s violation of the IOC Code of Ethics and the clear breach of the Olympic Truce.

  1. The IRF excludes the Russian Rafting Federation from officiating, or participating as a national member organisation at IRF Level A (World) and B (Continental) events until further notice.
  2. Athletes of Russian citizenship may only compete at IRF Level A (World) and B (Continental) events under a flag of peace, the IRF’s flag. They may not display the Russian Flag or name, or play the Russian National Anthem at any IRF event until further notice.

What this means in practical terms:

  • The Russian Rafting Federation cannot send any officials or representatives (including judges) to any IRF World or Continental level event until further notice
  • Russian teams may apply to the IRF to compete in level A and B events as neutral This means they cannot have Russian flags, colours, or anthems
  • The IRF cannot accept or consider any submissions for level A (World) events to be held in Russia or organised by the Russian Rafting Federation

Actions in Ukraine - HeartThe IRF was founded on a platform of peace and unity through Project RAFT (Russians and Americans For Teamwork) at the end of the Cold War. The Russian Rafting Federation (RRF), a founding member of the IRF, has stated that they and their athletes are not a part of the Russian government or military, and are not in support of war. The IRF has a strong bond with Russian rafters which has made the BOD decision especially difficult.

The IRF joins with other international sport federations in putting pressure on the Russian government to cease their appalling actions in Ukraine. The IRF shall continue to promote peace and unity through our sport, and encourages all rafters to come together irrespective of their nationality, to stand united against this war.

The IRF extends a hand of support to our rafting friends in Ukraine in any way possible. We stand ready to serve as a channel for the worldwide rafting community to direct aid to the Ukrainian people.

Joseph Jones
Chair, IRF Board of Directors

#StopWar #StandWithUkraine