Canoeing. Krakow Mayor's Cup
After a COVID brake, Kolna canoeing track in Krakow started organizing events again. Last weekend "Krakow Mayor's Cup" supposed to be a beautiful time for me. I was missing portraits on canoes, so I decided to visit the track with a camera and two lenses, dressed so that even the light rain would have not stopped me from shooting.
Imagine my surprise and regret on the spot when it turned out that taking photos is impossible! The entire, absolutely entire track has been separated by a 2-meter-high grid fence. Although 1/3 of the seating sector was intended for the fans, it was also separated from the track by the same fence. Approaching the track turned out to be impossible. I quickly ended with a few overall photos only, as there was no way to shoot sport portraits anymore.
I asked an activist who was standing nearby, about the limitations. In response, I heard the following explanations: (1) fencing off the track is the result of concern for safety and comfort of competitors, (2) regulations have changed, (3) in general, you can take photos only if you have a press accreditation. Let me address all the three reasons. First, I have no idea where this sudden concern for the safety and comfort of the players came from. After all, until 2019 the track operated without any fence. I don't recall anyone having problems with that. Second, COVID regulations? Fact, I remember when the track was cordoned off in 2020 I think. That was ok. But it's 2023 now, and some other events are attended by tens of thousands of people. No one in the crowd today thinks about COVID. Third, press accreditation? Come on, I'm taking these photos for myself and showing them to my friends on my private TV while sipping beers! If I found any of my photos on a website other than mine, I would kick the site owner's a.. or organized a DDOS attack at the site at least! Jokes aside, if an athlete is hesitant to be photographed, maybe he shouldn't compete? Everyone takes pictures today, and it is nearly impossible not to be in some photo.
At this point, I must also mention other sport events in which I and many other amateur photographers took part. For example, Zar Mountain downhill, or Cracovia Marathon, both last month. Was any of the organizers worried that amateur came and took pictures? On the contrary, it is pure advertising of the event. The organizers need the viewers to come, talk, support and photograph. The more fans and the greater interest in a given sport, the brighter the future of a discipline. In a long term it means more money. Take a look at football or basketball.
The canoe track was an open track for years. To give you an example, in 2019 I was shooting here at a junior world championship. I was sitting next to the watercourse, with no fence. The same for 2019 "Krakow Mayor's Cup". It was the same event as today but a few years back. How different experience it was!
Today, in 2023, fans are scarce. On Saturday on the seating sector I saw only a dozen or so people. Instead of spectators, dandelions are watching the competitions (photo no 1). Yes, dandelions, because the fans can't get to the meadow. Cyclists watch the competition from behind the fence, because they have no way to enter the seating sector with bicycles (photo no 3). Look at a food vendor who has no customers at all (also photo no 3). I know that the weather might have been better in the past, but hey, still...
Thumbs down to the organizers for transforming the unique, open track into a closed facility surrounded by a fence, like it was a construction site. It's sad for me that I will not go there anymore. But in the neighbourhood there are other interesting events that are photography friendly.