A petition urging the International Canoe Federation (ICF) to scrap a proposal to include extreme slalom as part of its event programme at Paris 2024 has been launched by Olympic gold medallist Tom Liebscher.
The petition on the Change.org website, which has been signed by nearly 7,300 people at the time of writing, comes prior to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board decision on the Paris 2024 event schedule tomorrow.
A group of athletes including Olympic champions have also attempted to lobby the IOC Athletes' Commission after raising concerns over the impact of axing two canoe sprint events to accommodate extreme slalom.
National Federations and other athletes have written a similar letter to the ICF Board, suggesting it did not follow the correct process before it voted to propose extreme slalom.
The petition spearheaded by Germany's Liebscher, gold medallist in the K4 1,000 metres event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, calls on the ICF to decline to put forward extreme slalom for inclusion at the Games in the French capital.
The letters from athletes and National Federations suggest they are not against extreme slalom becoming an Olympic discipline, but they have outlined their opposition to cutting two canoe sprint events - the men's and women's K1 200m - to accommodate it.
They believe the canoe sprint events should be retained by reducing existing quotas in other events on the programme.
"The ICF’s decision by the board is very controversial; in fact, it can only result in damaging our sport and potentially segregating our organisation and its culture for future Olympians," the group of athletes wrote in their letter to the IOC Athletes' Commission.
"The recent decision and the process to which it was implemented has only built a growing distrust amongst our paddling community."
The coalition of athletes and National Federation representatives - from countries including Australia, Britain and Hungary - said the decision to propose extreme slalom should be "immediately reversed".
They claim it was made without their input and have raised the possibility of a legal challenge to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the ICF presses ahead with its application.
The efforts to persuade the ICF to change its decision look set to fail as the proposal has already been submitted to the IOC's Olympic Programme Commission, whose recommendation will be considered by the Executive Board when it meets to confirm the Paris 2024 programme.
The IOC has said it will only consider applications for new events at the Games if they do not increase the number of athlete quotas and can be staged at an existing Paris 2024 venue.
In response to the petition, the ICF said "this was never our desired outcome" and the change had been forced by the IOC telling the organisation in November that it could not add two new medals without making room for them.
"The ICF fully understands the depth of feeling within the canoeing community as a result of these decisions," an ICF spokesperson told insidethegames.
"Change is never easy.
"However we need to remind the athletes and the federations, this was never our desired outcome.
"In fact, we only discovered in November that adding two new medals to our canoe programme was no longer an option, even though we required no extra athletes for those medals.
"The ICF has to make decisions that will provide the best opportunity for our sport to flourish on the Olympic programme.
"This includes a strong slalom and sprint format."