ISA Receives Landmark Decision by Court of Arbitration to Become Governing Body of Stand Up Paddling at Olympic Level

Bruno Hasulyo Starboard ISA Mens Distance race
Bruno Hasulyo claims a golden moment for Team Hungary in the iconic Distance Race in Copenhagen, Denmark at the ISA World Sup & Paddleboard Championships. Photo by: Georgia Schoenfeld
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In a landmark decision today, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) awards the official governance of the sport of Stand Up Paddling to the International Surfing Association (ISA) at the Olympic Level.

This. Is. Big. News.

Connor Baxter ISA World Championship Pan AM World Games
ISA and Pan Am SUP Gold Medalist Connor Baxter (USA) rounds a buoy at the 2019 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in El Salvador. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

La Jolla, California, August 6, 2020 – The International Surfing Association today celebrates a monumental turning point in a landmark decision made by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to award the official capacity for the governance of SUP to the ISA at Olympic level.

ISA’s Commitment to Sport of SUP Awarded in Pivotal Decision

This long awaited resolution of the international controversy between the ISA and ICF is truly a historic moment for the sport of stand up paddling, as well as the International Surfing Association. The ISA has shown its deep commitment to the overall global growth and development of SUP over the years including investing and defending the sport to serve the best interests of its athletes, national federations, local SUP events and massive fan base.

The CAS decision now allows the ISA to focus and accelerate the international growth and popularity of the sport. As the International Sport Federation responsible for SUP at the Olympic level, the ISA now has a clear path to develop the vertical alignment in making SUP an Olympic event, as the competitive sport of surfing recently became.

Itzel Delgado is handed his homeland flag for Peru upon his win at the ISA World Championships.
Itzel Delgado is handed his homeland flag for Peru upon his win at the ISA World Championships. Photo by Sean Evans

ISA President Speaks of Future of SUP

The ISA President, Fernando Aguerre spoke of this great moment in sport history:

 “At the end of this long and difficult paddle, we are both relieved and gratified by this important decision by CAS. In confirming the ISA’s governance of the sport of stand up paddling at the Olympic level, CAS has validated the ISA’s years of passion, commitment and leadership – from our world champions, to our officials, organizers and member federations.    

The global SUP community now looks forward to continuing to build an exciting future for SUP and all its athletes. This includes our long-term ambition and plan to see the sport included in the Olympic Programme under the leadership and authority of the ISA.

 Today’s decision is a team gold medal for the sport and the ISA.  We would like to thank all the athletes, officials, ISA member federation leaders and APP World Tour, as well as our legal team at Baer & Karrer, who supported us and stood by us all along the way.”

Casper Steinfath talks as both athlete and official capacity at International Surfing Association (ISA)

World Champion and ISA Vice President Casper Steinfath Speaks

ISA Vice President Casper Steinfath speaks to this new path for the ISA:

 “As an active athlete, but also Vice President of the ISA, I am truly stoked for this outcome. We are hugely pleased to put this legal process behind us.The ISA is eager to get back to the important priority of expanding global opportunities for SUP athletes and the sport.

As we saw at the Pan Am Games last summer in Lima, Peru, stand up paddling can add amazing value to multi-sport competitions like the Olympic Games, Youth Olympic Games, and other Continental Games.

The pathway to these events for the athletes – through the ISA governance and its membership – is now clear. Today marks a historic moment for the rightful leadership, promotion and unity of SUP, which will ensure it enjoys an exciting and successful future.”

Hooray!  And now…. To the Olympics?

Stay tuned as Standup Journal follows the ISA in their renewed direction to build a vertical pathway, paving the way for the athletes in the sport of stand up paddle racing and SUP surfing to become Olympic contenders.  Well earned, ISA!


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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.