COVID can’t cancel a rafting comp. That’s the word from the International Rafting Federation, which, after two years of obstacles and restrictions, announced that the World Rafting Championships location for 2022 has been confirmed to again return to the vibrant blue waters of the Vrbas river in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The river Vrbas has hosted three European Rafting Championships (2004, 2015 and 2019) as well as the 2009 IRF World Rafting Championships, where it saw over 50,000 people attending the opening ceremony. With 53 open teams competing, that event also introduced the concept of night slalom and had. Banja Luka is well known in Bosnia and throughout Europe as being host to many rafting trips and rafting events including being a season regular on the IRF Euro Cup circuit.
WRC 2022 China still a future prospect
As much as the IRF was excited to host a World Rafting Championship in China, the current and forecast pandemic impacts on athletes and tourists arriving in China forced a delay in China being able to host the WRC. IRF BOD members said China would still like to host the WRC, but cannot commit to WRC 2022 due to the unknown impacts of COVID-19 variants and the government’s quarantine rules being extended to at least the middle of 2022. So execs evaluated the option of bringing the WRC 2023 event in Bosnia forward to 2022.
With the Republic of Srpska unable to confirm the water release for the Vlatava (Lipno) River for a few more weeks due to a potential conflict of dates with another world level competition, the IRF awarded it to Bosnia.
“The main reason was that we felt that a final decision was needed to be made as quickly as possible in order for IRF National Member federations, athletes and most of all the organizers to have sufficient time to prepare for this great event,” said the IRF in a statement. “SVOCR Rafting have expressed an interest to host a WRC in the near future so we may still yet head back to the Devil’s Stream for a WRC.”
The 2022 World Rafting Championships will be held in late May or early June 2022. The exact dates will be confirmed in the coming few weeks. WRC 2022 will once again be sited around Krupa and Karanovac in Banja Luka. Teams will be able to register and book accommodation from early 2022 following their successful selection at their national selections with their own National Member federations.
Racing will be in the R4 format in Youth (U19), Junior (U23), Open and Masters (40+) age categories for both Men and Women. As more details are confirmed they will be added to the event listing here:
The current 2021 published International Rafting Federation Race Rules (March 2021) remain in effect and will be used for WRC 2022 and other IRF sanctioned raft race events in 2022. The 2021 Race Rules can be found here.