Canoe Kayak Canada is very saddened to hear of the passing of João Tomasini Schwernter – President of the Brazilian Canoe Federation/COPAC. He will be missed by the entire paddling community and we send our sincere condolences to his family and friends during this very difficult time.
Statement from the International Canoe Federation (ICF):
The International Canoe Federation is mourning the passing of long time board member and passionate canoe sports advocate, Joao Tomasini Schwertner, who died on Sunday in Brazil following complications of Covid-19.
Mr Tomasini, who was 61, was one of the longest serving leaders of Olympic sport in Brazil, having been president of the Brazilian Canoe Federation (CBCa) since 1989, and a member of the Brazilian Olympic Committee since the same year.
ICF President, Jose Perurena, paid tribute to his long-time colleague and friend.
“Over many years Joao has been a tireless worker driving the growth and development of canoeing, not just in the Pan American region, but throughout the world,” Mr Perurena said.
“Through Joao, canoeing in his region always had a strong voice at the ICF table. His passion for the sport was obvious to all, and the many hours he devoted to the sport will never be forgotten.
“He was also a valued friend of everyone in the canoeing family. His passing from this dreadful virus will be felt strongly throughout the paddling world.”
Mr Tomasini served as president of the South American Canoe Federation (CoSurCa) from 2010 to 2018, and had been president of the Pan American Canoe Federation (COPAC) since 2017.
He first joined the board of the ICF in 1994, and served as a vice-president from 1998 until 2008, and again from 2010 to 2014.
He tested positive for Covid-19 on December 17, and was admitted to the Marcelino Champagnat Hospital in Brazil the following day. He spent 30 days in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
ICF vice-president and president of the German Canoe Federation, Thomas Konietzko, said canoeing owed a great debt to Mr Tomasini.
“Joao was the driving force behind the incredible growth of our sport in Brazil and Pan America,” Mr Konietzko said.
“He will leave a gap that we will not be able to fill. He was also a friend you could count on, and leaves a great legacy for our beloved sport.
“We will miss him. My thoughts are with his family.”
Mr Tomasini devoted much of his life to canoeing. He was instrumental in the formation of the Brazilian Canoe Federation, and played a leading role in organising numerous canoe championships at an ICF, South American and Pan American level.
ICF secretary general, Simon Toulson, said Mr Tomasini was one of canoeing’s great leaders.
“At the ICF we have been very fortunate to have strong leaders all over the world, and none have been stronger and worked harder than Joao,” Mr Toulson said.
“Joao not only worked to establish canoeing as a competitive sport in his region, he also worked to ensure its growth and development. The pride he took at the Rio Olympics in showcasing the sports he loved so passionately was clear for everyone to see.
“Joao was also an incredibly popular ICF board member. His views on all aspects of our sport were widely sought after and respected by his colleagues, who I am sure are all deeply feeling his loss today.”
The ICF extends its sympathies to Mr Tomasini’s family and friends, and to everyone in the international canoeing community.