ICF President Thomas Konietzko, fourth from left, meeting with officials in Romania ©ICF

International Canoe Federation (ICF) President Thomas Konietzko has visited Romania to thank the National Federation for its support of Ukrainian athletes.

Konietzko met with the Romanian Canoe Federation officials and local community leaders, including the Governor of Ilfov, where athletes from neighbouring Ukraine have been staying.

Romanian Sport Minister Eduard Novak and his deputy were present too, as was the President of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee President Mihai Covaliu.

The ICF President Konietzko met with Ukrainian athletes who have fled the nation because of Russia's invasion and promised to continue working to ensure their well-being.

"I took the opportunity to express the gratitude of not just the ICF, but the entire canoeing community, to the Romanian Federation and the Romanian Government for the generous support they have shown this group of athletes who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves stranded," Konietzko said.

"It is an incredibly complex and costly operation, but to see first-hand how well everything is working is very impressive.

"We still need support from the rest of the canoeing community though. 

"Everyone has been generous so far, but the battle is not over.

"It will be a tremendous sight for the world to see athletes in Ukrainian colours competing at our ICF World Cups, but we need support to help pay for accommodation and transport to the competitions."

Many of Ukraine's best paddlers have been given refuge in Romania ©Getty Images
Many of Ukraine's best paddlers have been given refuge in Romania ©Getty Images

Konietzko also asked the canoe community to donate to the ICF's funding page for Ukrainian athletes.

The meeting included talks on future canoe development in Romania.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, since when at least 1,766 civilians have been killed, according to the United Nations which fears the true figure is far higher.

More than 4.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country.

In response to the invasion, the International Olympic Committee recommended International Federations ban athletes from Russia and Belarus, which is offering military support.

The ICF followed this guidance.

Recently, Ukrainian Para canoeists who had been stuck in Turkey were relocated to Nancy in France, which Konietzko expressed his appreciation for.

"A huge thank you to our friends at the French Federation, but also to our colleagues at World Rowing, who helped make sure this relocating occurred," said the ICF President.

"The city of Nancy will be stronger for having the presence of this group of very focussed and determined athletes in their neighbourhood, and we thank them for their hospitality."