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Para canoe

The Paralympic Games only include canoe sprint events that are held at a flatwater venue. Two types of boats are used: kayaks and va’as. Para athletes compete directly against one another in single-seater boats over a distance of 200m. While the kayak events were introduced at the Rio Games in 2016, the Va’a made its first appearance at the Tokyo Games in 2021. 

Brief overview of the rules 

Para canoe standards are the same as those for the Olympic Games. The only difference in terms of equipment is that the kayak has a wider bottom for greater stability.

The two para canoe boats are the kayak and the va’a. Va’a means “small boat” in Polynesian and they are traditionally used in Oceania and Tahiti in particular. The Va’a was created in Polynesia for travelling between the different islands. In kayak events, athletes use a double-bladed paddle, whereas a single-blade paddle is used in va’a events. Athletes create their own support on the water and transfer energy to the boat through their body.

Six kayak events (KL1, KL2 and KL3 for both women and men) and three va’a events (women’s VL2 and men’s VL2 and VL3) will be held at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. 

Eligible impairments 

There are two types of boats, kayaks (KL classification) and Va’as (VL classification), with three and two classification levels respectively based on a system for grading the body’s key movements:

– KL1: for athletes who propel their boat with their arms only (with no or very limited trunk function and no leg function).  

– KL2-VL2: for athletes who propel their boat with their arms and trunk (with partial trunk and leg function). 

– KL3-VL3: for athletes who have full function of their arms and trunk, and partial function in the legs.

The eligible impairment types are as follows: impaired muscle power, limb deficiency and impaired passive range of movement.

Further information about paralympic classification

Events in 2024

The para canoe events will take place between the 6th of September and the 8th of september.

  • KL1 (women’s-men’s)
  • KL2 (women’s-men’s)
  • KL3 (women’s-men’s)
  • VL2 (women’s-men’s)
  • VL3 (women’s-men’s)

Venue in 2024

International federation

International Canoe Federation

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