2023 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals, Barletta, Puglia, Italy / Detlev Seyb / MyRowingPhoto.com

-Where will Beach Sprint events take place at the Los Angeles 28 Olympic Games?

Several options have been identified and discussed with the LA28 Olympic Games Organising Committee, but no decision has been made at this early stage. We are however hopeful that the selected venue will be located at the heart of Los Angeles and near the Long Beach Marine Stadium, the confirmed venue for classic rowing. The inclusion of Beach Sprints to the LA28 Olympic Games’ programme will not require the construction of a new venue. It will imply a compact and agile infrastructure and a flexible competition format, reducing drastically the cost and complexity for the LA28 Organising Committee.

-How many athletes will compete at the LA28 Games and how will Beach Sprint qualification for the Olympic Games work?

The proposal from World Rowing is to have three medal events (the men’s and women’s solos, and the mixed double sculls) for a total of 64 athletes. However, the final number of events and quota places will be confirmed by the IOC at a later stage. A qualification system will then be elaborated and published. As for Classic Rowing, the quota places will be allocated to the National Olympic Committees. It will also be determined if rowers can compete at both disciplines (Classic and Beach Sprint Rowing) in Los Angeles.

Will gender equality be respected in the inclusion of Beach Sprint Rowing?

Three medal events have been proposed by World Rowing for the Beach Sprint Rowing programme: the men’s solo, the women’s solo, and the mixed double sculls. As it is the case with Classic rowing, the quota of athletes would be equal for men and women – meaning 32 male athletes and 32 female athletes. It would also be the first-time ever Rowing will offer a mixed event at the Olympic Games.

-Why are Beach Sprints being included and not Endurance Coastal events?

Coastal rowing racing is one of the fastest growing disciplines in the sport of rowing, with activity now on all continents. World Rowing made a conscious decision to promote the Beach Sprint format, one that has the potential to enhance the Olympics through the showcasing of a youthful discipline which embraces beach culture and our shared values of universality, gender-equality and sustainability. A discipline which will deliver genuine innovation in sport, broadcast and fan entertainment while maintaining low cost & complexity (pool boats, shared equipment, etc).

-Beach Sprints have only had three World Championship events so far. Is it not a bit premature for the discipline to be included in the Games?

The Beach Sprint format started with the emergence of the beach games competitions. The first event was held in Italy in 2015 at the Mediterranean Beach Games. Since then, the beach sprint format has been featured in Beach Games events across the world, including Asia, Africa and the Americas. The first global event was the 2019 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Shenzhen, China, and since then (with the exception of 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic) the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals have become an established event in our calendar. Five more World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals will be held before LA28, and Beach Sprints will be featured, amongst others, at the 2026 Commonwealth Games in and the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal. So, we will have built a very substantial global event experience by 2028.

– Will there be a series of Beach Sprint Rowing events in the future, to offer more opportunities for rowers to compete ?

The Beach Sprint format generates a lot of interest, and World Rowing already received expressions of interest to sanction different events across the globe. A thorough review will be conducted in the coming months to determine the best format of competition for the athletes. Amongst the different possibilities and scenarios, the creation of an international series or league is something World Rowing has been exploring, with the help of potential external partners and / or investors.

How can you ensure that Beach Sprint Rowing will be a universal discipline ?

There are many countries in the world that do not have access to a traditional 2’000m body of water. The Beach Sprint format provides a unique opportunity to bring rowing to different parts of the world, that have more access to coastal water. The development of Beach Sprint Rowing also follows a significant effort to increase our sport’s universality across all continents, and to make our sport accessible to new populations.

– Can we expect Beach Sprints to be included in the Paralympic Games’ programme?

While the initial submission only included the Olympic Games, the Beach Sprint format will be accessible to para-athletes once a safe competing environment can be fully implemented. Some test races have already been held, and the safety assessment will continue in the very near future. Inclusion is one of the core values of World Rowing and we will ensure para rowers can also enjoy this exciting form of rowing in the future.

For Classic Rowing, why will the LA28 Olympic Games’ regatta be raced in Long Beach?

It is a unique situation, brought about by a very specific Los Angeles context. We even­tually considered that our sport was much better off in Long Beach, at the heart of the Games, than in Lake Perris, far away from LA, even though the course would limit us to 1,500 metre races. In 1932, a full 2000m course was in place, but since then, a bridge was built and docks and other structures were installed, shortening the available water to 1500 meters for a six-lane race. Long Beach will be a great location and an exciting opportunity to showcase rowing to the rest of the world.

-Why have you favored Long Beach over other traditional 2’000 m venues in California?

The bid proposal was to stage the 2028 Olympic regatta at Lake Perris, a reservoir on the east of Los Angeles (approx. 3 hours outside of the Olympic Village). That would have required a satellite Olympic Village. There are also other opportunities in California, including Lake Casitas, the venue of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. But having rowing at the heart of the Games, reducing the cost and complexity of being far away from LA, were great arguments in favor of this change. This decision will require flexibility for all – athletes in the first place – but is really a proof of our ability to adapt without changing the core nature of our sport, where 2,000 metres remains the standard distance in our Rules of Racing and the right format for endurance races.

-Will regattas in the lead up be over 1500m? Will the qualification regatta be over 1500m?

Only the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Regattas will be raced over 1500m. Other events, including the Qualification regattas in 2027 and 2028, will be raced over the standard distance of 2000m.

 -Why are lightweights being cut from the Olympic Programme?

Lightweights were included for the first time in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games programme – this step, which many have wanted for some time, would allow to promote the sport better in continents, countries and for people presenting varying morphologies. However, for a long time now, the IOC has been considering weight categories inappropriate outside of combat sports (judo, boxing), martial arts and weightlifting. Rowing was no exception to this consideration.

After Rio 2016, the men’s lightweight coxless four was removed from the Olympic Programme (and the openweight women’s coxless four introduced in Tokyo 2020) in order to reach gender equality, a critical objective of World Rowing. This left only the men’s and women’s double sculls as Olympic lightweight events at Tokyo 2020, and Paris 2024, marking the last time when lightweight rowing will be featured on the Olympic programme.

-What will happen to lightweight boat classes at World Rowing events?

Lightweight events will not disappear from the World Rowing events programme in the foreseeable future. As this is the case today with non-Olympic events, they will still be offered at the World Rowing Cups and World Rowing Championships. World Rowing also recently launched a Strategic Event review that will discuss amongst other topics, the future of the lightweight events.