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In a heartwarming display of sharing and environmental awareness, athletes from around the world came together during a recent WRF World Rafting Championships 2023 Valtellina, Italy to support the World...
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Francesco Ricci Bitti is a former tennis player, engineer and sports administrator from Bologna, Italy.
He is President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).
He is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, and held the same position for Rio 2016.
Ricci Bitti is a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Executive Committee and Foundation Board, as well as a member of the SportAccord Convention, where he served as President from 2015 to 2017. He is Honorary Life President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), having acted as President from 1999 to 2015. From 2006 to 2012, he served as IOC Member and Executive Board member of the National Olympic Committee of Italy (CONI).
Following the interview to Mr. Ferriani, President of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) on the basis of Good Governance and the current worldwide situation, where “We have to be chameleons, not dinosaurs”, we asked to Mr Ricci Bitti to share his opinion with WRF.
Mr Ricci Bitti, what is the Good Governance and why is this term widely used at the moment?
As a pioneer of Good Governance in sport, I would like to stress the fact that this term is quite fashionable over the last period and sometimes it is improperly interpreted.
Governance basically represents the quality of the management system and the appropriateness of the organisations whenever they need to respond to the specific needs regarding structure and dynamics of the organisation itself. A peculiar term that stands for Governance is accountability.
Good Governance, that has its origins in the business field, is a latecomer to the sports world. The main reasons seem clear:The growing importance of sport in the society and the consequent media coverage; The well-deserved preservation of the traditional operational autonomy of sport; The protection of sports operators, who are often volunteers, in this increasingly complex picture of sports world.
I am very pleased and motivated by the fact that the ASOIF project is already at its “fourth round” and is recognised by international public authorities: it is a concrete example of the development of Good Governance and a stimulating factor for the international federations that commit to comply with standards of excellence.
What is the first teaching that the Covid-19 outbreak reminded you?
And, after a year of adaptation and “forced cohabitation” with the Pandemic, what is the last?
The first important thing I learnt, or remembered, is that health and, therefore, environmental sustainability, must get the top priority in the attention of society, especially among young people.
On the other hand, the latest teaching for me is that Covid-19 accelerates all the worldwide societies trends; at the same time, as every negative phenomenon, it offers the chance to bring real innovations in every organisation, including the sports world. The two priorities from the perspective of the international federations are the revision and the consolidation of the calendar of the main competitions and the development of a digital strategy, improving the corresponding virtual involvement of every discipline. There is a dual objective: to get in touch with the young fans and eventually create a new source of income to reinvest in the sport movement.
With regard to integration instead, what do you think about the 2+2 format of the Para-Rafting teams? And about the mix category of the RX, with two women and two men who can choose their position on the raft according to their peculiar strength and technique?
In the current period Gender Equality and integration of the Paralympic activities are priorities in the sports world; therefore I find the disciplines with mixed teams an absolute current and brilliant idea. The search for formats more attractive to athletes, broadcasters, live and virtual spectators and is also remarkable and in common with every sport that want to grow. It is a great starting point.
On 27th and 28th February the Federación Costarricense de Rafting organised the first meeting of the National Championship that will select the teams for France 2021.
The first race weekend saw eight R4 Senior teams paddling on the rapids of Rio Pejibaye.
Considering the upcoming event of the World Champs, the winners are the favourite candidates to carry the flag of Costa Rica in L'Argentière-La Bessée at the end of June, for now. Two other dates will decide the official teams.
Chicas del Pacuare
With the maximum score of 300 points the team Chicas del Pacuare got the gold in the female category, leading all three disciplines.
In the male category every discipline crowned a different winner team. The 120 RX points decided the overall winners: Hijos del Volcan, with 270 points.
The silver went to the Volcano team, with 263 points, who opened the competition winning the Downriver. Finally, with 254 points, the Quepos team took the the first place in the Slalom, and the bronze overall.
Hijos del Volcan
This great start is the first of three events for the National selection of Costa Rica. On 27th and 28th March all the teams will reunite in La Fortuna, San Carlo, and one last time in April in Sarapiquì.
Peace and Sport, the international organization based in Monaco which promotes peace using the power of sport, will join forces with the World Rafting Federation (WRF) to use rafting as a tool for social inclusion and overcoming differences.
The World Rafting Federation is an Associate Member of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) who is responsible for rafting under the umbrella of ICF. It currently has 40 members and it leads programs in South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.
As part of the cooperation agreement, Peace and Sport and the World Rafting Federation will undertake joint sport diplomacy actions and organize initiatives to raise awareness on Sport for Development and Peace among the rafting community. As first step in the cooperation, the World Rafting Federation will take part to the upcoming worldwide celebration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), on April 6. Further joint actions will be organized on the occasion of the 2021 World Rafting Federation Championship to take place from June 28 to July 3 in Argentières-Pays des Ecrins (France).
Joël Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, declared:
“I warmly welcome this new alliance between Peace and Sport and the World Rafting Federation. In peacebuilding processes, rafting has fostered reconciliation and rehabilitation in very efficient ways. This sport naturally fosters cooperation, as it makes people face together the wilderness of white waters, and it transmits values of tolerance and inclusion; it is a tool to create bonds within and between communities. We expect that this partnership will increase the social impact of our peace-through-sport initiatives.”
“I think that peace and sport are both an input and a result for the development of the worldwide society. The values we learn from challenges and physical efforts improve not only our body conditions: they are only a starting point and a small part of what sports give us. Sport is a vehicle for respect and sharing, and I think that our team sport, in close contact with nature, has a lot to give and to learn from Your movement. I am sure this is the beginning of a great common project” said Danilo Barmaz, WRF President.
On 19th February WRF officially became a member of the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP), with the signature of the two presidents Mr Danilo Barmaz and Dr Jenő Kamuti.
CIFP is supporting and promoting Fair Play worldwide since its foundation in Paris in 1963, by UNESCO, with a special emphasis on children, adolescents and those in charge of their training.
“Sport is one of the best metaphors in life: it means experience that constantly improves and tests our behavior; fair play is a concrete attitude that we manifest in action, not in theory. I am really pleased with this new WRF membership because the aim of CIFP is entirely consistent with our purposes” declared WRF President Barmaz “Fair competition, respect, friendship, team spirit, equality, sport without doping, integrity, solidarity, tolerance, care, excellence and joy: I consider rafting an interesting sport that incorporates all the fundamental values of the Committee, so this membership represents both an accomplishment and a starting point of our grow path”
Cooperation in the spirit of fair play delivers greater results than pure gamesmanship in all walks of life.
Two objectives among the WRF purposes are to generally promote a good sporting practice and to specifically promote the practice of our sport as a a healthy and educational activity for youth. Fair play can be considered a tool that bonds the awareness of our mind and body, because through our behaviour we show the aim of our mind. Whenever we act in the spirit of fair play we contribute to building a peaceful and better world: through the tolerance and respect that we learn in the river, and from sport in general, we start to integrate peculiar dynamics, relevant into the everyday life, considering the society as a team.
WRF is proud to announce that it has joined the UNFCCC’s Sports for Climate Action initiative as a signatory to the Sports for Climate Action Framework.
Since 1994 the UNFCCC is working through leadership, collaboration and ambition as key messages, preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system.
The Sports for Climate Action initiative calls on sporting organizations to acknowledge the contribution of the sports sector to climate change and our responsibility to strive towards climate neutrality for a safer planet.
Through collective action and bold leadership, WRF has the power to contribute to this fast and drastic transformation. "By signing the Framework, we have demonstrated WRF commitment to playing our part to ensure the sports sector is on the path to a low-carbon future" said the WRF President, Danilo Barmaz.
UN Climate Change welcomes the leadership of the International Olympic Committee in contributing to key areas of action within this movement and shares with the international governing bodies that join the movement, such as sports federations, two main objectives:Achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships according to verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the well below 2 degree scenario enshrined in the Paris Agreement; Using sports as a unifying tool to federate and create solidarity among global citizens for climate action.
In line with the five core principles enshrined in the Framework and the aims of the Paris Agreement, WRF will strive to:promote greater environmental responsibility; reduce the overall climate impact from sports; use our platform to educate for climate action; promote sustainable and responsible consumption; and advocate for climate action through our communications.
At the launch event for the Framework, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa explained that sports organizations and athletes are in a unique position in the race against climate change “because sports touches on every cross-section of society”.
With this in mind, we hope our commitment will inspire our fans, community and governments to raise their climate ambition in a united effort to limit global warming to 1.5oC. This is a race we can—and must— win to avoid significantly worsening the risk of droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
On 20th-21st March 9 teams competed for the 2021 Croatian title at the Senior National Championship in Zagreb, Donja Dubrava village, organised by the Canoe Federation on Drava river.
The overall podium reports the same results of every discipline, not without intense battles in evert field, and confirms the names for the World Rafting Championship 2021.
The winners, after fights with Slalom penalties and an intense knock out stage in the RX, retain the title: they were already selected for the international season 2021 after the victory at the last National Championship held in November 2020.
The third step of the podium goes to Rastocki Mlinari, with 240 points: A. Puškarić, E. Matković, T. Vukošić and S. Hodak.
Silver medal for Cetina Raft, with 270 points: A. Škarica, M. Budić, M. Brajić and A. Tadić.
Kanu Klub Končar
Kanu Klub Končar gets the gold, confirming their spot on the National team with 300 points: Danko Herceg, Tomislav Hohnjec, Luka Obadic and Ivan Tolic are definitely ready for France 2021.
Last weekend the agonistic season in Italy has finally begun. After the forced stop due to the Pandemic and a snowy winter all around the country, Italy gets back in the river on Vara, that hosts nearly 150 rafters in Brugnato, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria.
Para-rafting athletes were also there, some of them experienced the rapids for the first time, while others were already looking at Durance river, training for the World Champs.
RX and Downriver tested the athletes, that will earn their spot in the national teams during the official selection in May and June, but are already paddling for it.
Letizia Lauri, Elodie Lumignon, Gaia Mascarello and Carlotta Scalvino, competing as Rafting Aventure Villeneuve, won the female category with 200 points. Second place for Adda Viva Indomita Valtellina River with 180 and bronze to Sesia Rafting/Centrosportavventura with 160 points.
Rafting Aventure Villeneuve
In the male category, a second place in the downriver guaranteed a gold to the RX winners of the Sesia Rafting team: Dario Morandi, Michele Pattoglio, Francesco Regina and Giordy Sarteur scored 192 points, followed by Rafting Team Verona with 188 points and Indomita Valtellina River with 160 points.
With the eyes on France, the teams are focused on the next dates: 2 National Cups and regular agonistic meetings will decide the names that we will see at the World Champs, and all the candidates are training for that spot.
A new partnership has been singed between WRF and Sport and Sustainability International (SandSi).
SandSi is a not-for-profit international organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, that leverages the power of sport to encourage mind and behaviour changes towards more responsible conduct, aligning with the Paris Agreement and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030. The mission of SandSi has much in common with the principles of our federation: to accelerate sustainability in and through sport.
The three main goals of the organisation for 2030 are:
Climate: the sport sector to become Carbon Neutral (according to the 2015 Paris Agreement)
Waste: the sport sector to become Zero Waste, issue that has been the core of World Championship 2019 in Tunceli and we consider a starting point
Health: the sport sector to contribute to 15% reduction on physical inactivity (according with the World Health Organisation).
To achieve these results, we share four conditions: Inclusion, Integrity, Accountability and Passion.
While SandSi acts with these purposes cooperating with leagues, federations, clubs, companies and institutions worldwide, we apply such principles at every level of our river community taking inspiration from our athletes and guides who constantly remind us that we are all in the same boat.
Rafting has been recognised several times as a tool of inclusion and overcoming differences and we are constantly trying to take this aim to the next level.
Our sport is not only a whitewater experience. Besides new athletes with disabilities approaching to the river and mix-teams competing at our events, in the last years the diversification of tracks has open up new horizons. As a team sport it is increasingly used by schools and companies. Kids are introduced to rafting not only as a recreational and cultural activity but also to fight physical inactivity and the sedentary behaviours. And furthermore rafting is practised in close contact with nature: physical education at school has the potential to be an effective tool to raise awareness on environmental issues.