The International Canoe Federation (ICF) is the world governing body for canoe and kayak sport.
Its Headquarters are located in the Maison du Sport International (MSI) in Lausanne, “Olympic Capital”, Switzerland; a mere paddle away along Lake Geneva from the proposed site at Lausanne-Vidy where the architecturally-stunning new Olympic House will be located – Head Office of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The ICF is responsible for: organising international competitions including World Championships, World Cups and Continental Cups; and in addition, representing the interests of national federations worldwide; anti-doping; fostering the global development of the sport, paddlesports education and gender parity.
Under its governance, fall nine canoe-kayak disciplines (ICF terminology):
Olympic – canoe sprint and canoe slalom
Paralympic (from 2016) – paracanoe
Non-Olympic – wildwater (aka. downriver); canoe marathon; canoe polo; canoe freestyle; ocean-racing (surfski, kayak) and dragon boat – shared responsibility with the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF).
To compliment the above, the ICF recognises the following paddlesports which have their own governing bodies: va'a (outrigger - IVF); waveski (WWSA); lifesaving (ILS); rafting (IRF); canoe sailing* is also recognised but does not have an independent federation.
The first world canoe-kayak body was formed in January 1924, then known as the the Internationale Repräsentantenschaft Kanusport (IRK), to represent the contingent of athletes from Denmark, Sweden and Austria competing at the Paris 1924 Summer Olympic Games when canoe sprint made its international debut as a demonstration sport.
Canoe sprint became an Olympic discipline at the Berlin 1936 Olympics Games and it was not until 1946 that the IRK became known as the 'ICF'.
The current ICF President is José Perurena López (ESP) who is also an International Olympic Commitee (IOC) Member and was elected as President of the International World Games Association (IWGA) in 2014. At present the ICF has 161 member associations.
*Canoe sailing is not considered a paddlesport as a sail is used to propel the craft along instead of a paddle.