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Letter from the President

September 2021

Greetings to you all (Kia Ora Koutou)

In late June we celebrated National Volunteers Week and here at IBCPC we’re celebrating the amazing work of volunteers across our networks around the globe.

We have no idea how large the number of total volunteers in all walks of life is across the globe, but we all agree it would be in the many millions. We do know the numbers for New Zealand (a small island nation of 5,000,000). The most recent statistics show that more than 200,000 New Zealanders volunteer their time to support registered charities every week, and their work adds up to more than 1.5million hours worked on average every week. If you used the same numbers to multiply that by the population of the USA at 320 million people it would equate to 12,800,000 volunteers and 96,000,000 hours per week of voluntary time given …WOW. These are incredible numbers that speak volumes of the philanthropy that we as volunteers provide for the charities that we support for the communities that we live in. I encourage you all to think about this when you are looking for just that little bit extra to give back to your community. We loudly applaud the amazing work that all volunteers (including ourselves) do.

While paddlers in many countries are enjoying being able to meet up again and to start to paddle let us spare a thought for those that are still well and truly in the midst of a pandemic. Our National Representative from Argentina Dr. Matilde Yahni, tells us that they are still diagnosing 20,000 new cases a day in a population of 45 million, they have had almost 5million cases, at one point there were 500 deaths per day. Deaths now total 106,000. We can’t help but feel for Fiji (one of our smallest member nations) which is in the middle of a major pandemic, with such a small island population (900,000) the statistics of the fatalities have been large for such a small country and at one stage they had the highest number of cases per capita. The cases as at the time of writing were 40,587, with 368 deaths. By comparison New Zealand with a population of 5,000,000 had 24 deaths. These poorer smaller nations are certainly suffering much more from this pandemic. All of these figures do of course change daily as cases recover and new outbreaks occur.

In Canada the people have been in various stages of lockdown levels for well over 18 months. Regions like Quebec have pushed to open and let paddlers get out on the water, but many other provinces are still in a level of alertness. Our Canadian representative Linda Kuska who is a frontline nurse tells us that whilst really wanting to be back on the water she is waiting to see what unfolds through the summer months. We do not hear anything on the news about many of these countries, so please spare a thought for our paddling members globally who are still in a big fight for health and wellbeing.

Even though so many teams are still not back on the water, that has not stopped the activities continuing virtually and programmes and team numbers building. We are seeing phenomenal growth in Brazil through the drive and fortitude of Cleusa Alonso and also in Argentina led by our two national representatives there. It has been astounding to watch this activity and growth and you can read more about this in the rest of the newsletter.

We are always very happy to share information about events anywhere globally, however we must stress that right now you err on the side of caution when considering travelling nationally, but more importantly internationally. In this instance we are bringing you news that the IDBF World Nations Championships and 30th Anniversary celebration to be held in Hong Kong in November 2021 has been cancelled. IBCPC has a seat at the IDBF council table and I was personally involved in the many months of meetings that lead to this final decision. I can tell you it is not a decision that was made easily, other location options and venues were explored however none of these options were any better than Hong Kong and each still entailed quarantine regardless of the location. Dragonboat paddling is a self-funded sport and it was felt it was unfair to the athletes to have to cover not only their travel costs but also the costs of quarantine along with the isolation that they would incur in Hong Kong and that this would have had a negative impact on their mental well-being. The letter explaining the decision is further down in this newsletter. We feel deeply disappointed for all those athletes who trialled in their countries and especially those breast cancer paddlers who most recently went to the USA trials in July.

Whilst we all await the commencement of the Paralympic Games let us remember the magnificent achievement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. We were all able to observe in our homes all the events of the XXXII Olympiad and the achievements of the athletes. For the IDBF members, the beauty and the athleticism of the water sports contested in Tokyo on the Sea Forest Waterway were particularly inspiring.

News from Mike Thomas, President, IDBF. Tokyo’s 2020 statement.

While the Paralympic Games have been under way, let us remember the Olympic Games and celebrate excellence, perseverance, and solidarity. As the founding governing body of a sport that is seeking recognition by the International Olympic Committee, we have provided Olympic level leadership to the development of Dragon Boat sport since 1991. We aspire to be part of the Olympic family. We will continue to build our sport and prove that we are the organisation to represent the millions of paddlers around the world to pursue their Olympic dreams.

There was a huge disappointment when unfortunately, we needed to cancel the 15th IDBF World Dragon Boat Championships due to be held in November in Hong Kong. It was particularly so sad that in the 30th year of the formation of the IDBF that we could not return to the birthplace of the modern sport of dragon boat racing to celebrate on the water all the amazing skills of teamwork that make our sport so exciting.

Let us all meet again in Sarasota during 18-24 July 2022 for the next Club Crew World Championships, when we can once again celebrate the remarkable skills of the athletes and teams involved.

Who would have thought that with lockdowns and no paddling, plus the cancellation of events globally that we could produce such an incredibly full and newsy newsletter with 20 articles, there is lots of great reading and excellent information to absorb, so make sure you click on the “show more” link.

Before I sign off, I would like to again applaud all the volunteers for their important work. Words are definitely insufficient to express the thanks for this important work, so instead I will send you all much LOVE (Arohanui).

Meri Gibson