Ukraine canoeing thanked the community for support during the invasion ©ICF

The Ukraine Canoe Federation (UCF) has thanked the sporting community for its support during the period since the invasion of its country by Russia in February, on the opening day of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Congress in Pattaya.

UCF vice-president Andriy Masliuk said all of the nation's athletes will be grateful for the solidarity, adding that the sanctions against Russia and Belarus, the condemnation of the war and the support from the paddling community had helped greatly.

"The Ukraine Canoe Federation thanks all federations who accepted our teams for free, giving us an opportunity to perform, to ensure Ukraine is not broken on the battlefield or in the sports arena," said Masliuk.

ICF President Thomas Konietzko opened the Congress, saying the International Federation had held 34 international events in 2022 while setting new marks for online engagement and event viewing.

He added that the ICF were committed to gender equity, sustainability and to unity among nations in the current global environment.

In a video message, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach congratulated the ICF on their season, highlighting the Canoe Slalom World Championships in Augsburg - 50 years on from the sport's Olympic debut.

Newly-appointed ICF secretary general Richard Pettit - who started in his role eight weeks ago - spoke about the new tasks he has had to undertake, but added about his excitement for the future.

"It's been a difficult but progressive season," said Pettit.

"We have a huge opportunity in this room to look at how we can connect with every paddler on the planet. 

"I want to share best practice among the community, so we can build a stronger future for the sport.

"We continually need to think how we can unite and extend support to the athletes. 

"We need to remain relevant and consider how we can amplify our message."

ICF treasurer Luciano Buonfiglio said the finances were strong despite COVID-19, inflation and the crisis related to Russia, saying it looked positive heading towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Workshops were also held on sustainability and development today.

Solomon Islands and Comoros were successfully added as new members of the ICF, bringing the membership total to 171.

Two more days are left at the ICF Congress in Thailand.