By Jonathan Rest
The International Canoe Federation, the sport's governing body, is keeping a watching brief on events in Prague should flood damage in the Czech capital jeopardise this year's Canoe Slalom World Championship, but has received assurances from politicians that any necessary additional funding will be made available to the organisers.
The Prague 2013 local organising committee this week expressed serious concerns over whether the venue will be able to stage the event, which is due to start on September 11, because of severe damage to the slalom course and nearby facilities caused by flooding in the region.
In a statement to Sportcal, Simon Toulson, general secretary of the ICF, said: "We are waiting for further reports on the venue once the waters have subsided. Then we can assess the damage and the impact on the World Championship. The local organisers have assured us that they will do everything within their power to ensure that the event will go ahead. They have also been promised additional support from the [Czech Republic] Government and city of Prague."
Toulson claimed that the ICF and the organising committee were making "suitable contingency plans" in the event that the championship cannot be held at venue, but added: "Hopefully these will not need to be activated."
Jiri Rohan, director of the local organising committee, said yesterday: "We've had to move all of the equipment from the basement of the boathouse to the second floor. The whole slalom course is submerged under flood water.
"There is damage to the tribunes, poles, ropes, gates and of both bridges above the channel. Now, all is about how high the water will rise. In the boathouse, the basement is already under the water. We all hope that the water will not climb up to the first floor."
The slalom course had only just reopened, following reconstruction of the bottom set of gates in November 2012. The next stage of reconstruction works was planned to start now, but is on hold until conditions change.
As a precaution, Prague's metro system and central sewage treatment plant were closed this week, while metal flood defences have been erected and sandbags built up along the banks of the Vltava river.