Important rule changes announced by the ICF ahead of 2019 season

Posted By: Canoe Kayak Canada

The 2019 international canoe season is shaping as a blockbuster, with eight separate world championships, as well as Olympic and Paralympic qualifiers.

Several changes have been introduced ahead of the 2019 season, which federations, teams and athletes should familiarise themselves with. Some involve changes to entry procedures, others involve stricter anti-doping education rules, and others involve changes to competition formats.

The first chapter of each rules book covers laws which relate to ALL disciplines. The list below covers just some of the changes ahead of this season. It is important Federations, athletes and coaches check out all the rule changes here.


First and foremost, teams need to be aware of new requirements for athlete entries for competitions. Nominal entries will now close ten (10) days before the first day of competition (or before classification for paracanoe).

There will now be a late entry fee for any nominal entries submitted after that deadline. Under the previous rules, deadlines were different for each discipline. The ICF believes making the 10-day deadline will make it less confusing for teams.

Teams will be sent reminder emails ahead of the final deadlines for world cups and world championships.


The ICF congress has endorsed a proposal to extend compulsory anti-doping education courses to all senior, U23 and junior international athletes across all canoeing disciplines.

It is important federations and teams understand that these education courses are compulsory and need to be completed before athletes compete in an international competition. Details about courses can be found here.


From 2019 there will only be one Nations Cup presented at each world championships. Previously cups were awarded for individual categories, but now the best performing team across the board will be recognised.


One of the biggest changes will see “next best time” no longer used for progression from semi-finals to finals for any event with between 28 and 54 boats. There will now be three semi-finals, and the top three from each semi will go through to the final.

The next three will go to a B final, and the next three to a C final. Best times will still be used in some situations for progression from heats to semi-finals, including in events where there are more than 54 entries.

“Next best times” will no longer be used in the Olympic Games, and the ICF is looking replicate the Olympic racing program.


Organisers will now have the option adding two extra upstream gates. Previously the maximum allowed was six, but now there can be eight. The change is to provide more challenges to the athletes.

Organisers also now have the option to set a shorter course, bringing the minimum length down from 200 metres to 150 metres.


Competitors must now ensure their head AND shoulders now pass through the gate. Previously just ensuring your head crossed the line was acceptable.


There will no longer be restrictions on the width of boats used in non-ICF events. Under the old rules, all competitions had to follow the 60 centimetre rule for K1, 70 centimetre for C1 and 80 centimetre for C2.

However in an effort to attract more paddlers, those restrictions will no longer apply for events outside world cups and world championships.

There will also be changes to introduce gender equality in finals, with an additional three places for women in the K1 sprint events, and an extra two places in C1 sprint. This will bring 15 men and 15 women in sprint finals, and 12 men and women in the C1.


Gender equality will also now be achieved in freestyle, with three team places now available for junior women, up from the original two.


Team cards have now been eliminated. Under the new system, players will now receive individual green cards, and the fourth player on a team to infringe will be given a yellow card.

Canoe polo will also introduce powerplays this year, and there will be a change to the way penalties are taken. Players will now be closer to the goal, but will need to contend with a goalkeeper.

Go to the ICF website to find all the rules for the coming season.