Kayaking, Canoeing & Rafting

Canoeing & Kayaking in the Olympics | The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium

The Olympic canoe and kayak slalom course up close


The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium where the canoeing and kayaking events at the Olympics will be held is one of the most complicated and technologically demanding venues being built for this year’s Olympic Games. Brazil has had its fair share of teething problems and delays with construction of other venues such as the Rio Olympic Velodrome, so could the Rio 2016 whitewater course be the success story everyone is hoping for?

Where Is The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium?

The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium can be found in Deodoro, 34km north west of central Rio. The stadium is part of the Deodoro venue cluster which will also host the equestrian, mountain bike, and BMX, pentathlon, shooting, hockey, rugby and basketball events.

The kayaking and canoeing arena is one of three permanent venues which have been built in Deodoro. Along with the Olympic BMX track and Olympic Mountain Bike track, the Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium is part of the X-Park, an action sports project that will see facilities available for the local community to use once the Games are finished.

How Big Is The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium?


The multi-million pound Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium consists of two slalom courses. The first is a 200-metre long class II to III training course while the second is the 250 metre long class II to IV channel that will be used for competition.


Between them, these two whitewater courses contain 25 million litres of water with a combined flow rate down both channels of 22 cubic meters per second. To put that in perspective that’s almost the same as Lee Valley, the venue for the London 2012 canoe and kayak slalom, which pumps 10.5 cubic meters per second down its training course and 13 cubic meters per second for Olympic level competition. The stadium will also feature temporary seating for 8,424 spectators during the Games.

Who Designed The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium?

The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium has been designed by Cundall and Whitewater Parks International (WPI), the same team behind London 2012 venue, Lee Valley Whitewater Centre in Hertfordshire.

As part of the design process this experienced team created a 1:13 size scale model of the Rio 2016 whitewater course at the Czech Technical University Hydraulic Laboratory in Prague. Using tiny magnetic barriers to simulate the full sized Rapid Blocs system they would be using in Brazil, Cundall and WPI were able to reduce the width of the Rio whitewater channels, creating a more efficient course that was also cheaper to build.

How Long Did It Take To Build The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium?


Work started on the Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium in August 2014 with a projected ready date of February 2016.

November 2015 saw the first successful test event of the course with international canoe and kayak athletes trying out the Whitewater Stadium for the first time, giving feedback to the course designers about how the rapids are to ride and what improvements could be made.


Athletes aren’t the only ones who’ve got to try out the Rio 2016 whitewater stadium. With soaring temperatures around Rio, the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes opened the site for locals to use as a swimming spot to cool off. Currently around 11,000 locals a day have been coming for a dip at the Olympic venue ahead of the Games beginning in August.

What Will It Be Like To Compete On The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium Course?

Photo: – Alex Ferro

US Slalom Team Kayaker, Aaron Mann got the chance to try out the Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium in November last year. In an article he wrote for Mann described the course as “powerful and punishing”, noting that it was pretty difficult to rectify mistakes from missed strokes.

Mann also thought there may be a few too many Rapidblocks which were slowing the water flow down in some places, making it hard to create waves in certain areas of the course, but felt confident that the organisers would have everything running smoothly by the beginning of the Games.

Will The Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium Be A Success?


Completed on schedule and with time to spare for last minute tweaks and polishing, the 2016 Whitewater Stadium is a one of Rio’s biggest Olympic venue successes. This fast and powerful course, built by an experienced team of designers will ensure that the Rio 2016 Whitewater Stadium is part of Brazil’s Olympic legacy that will remain long after the excitement of the games has faded. Just like Lee Valley, Rio’s Whitewater Stadium will be a great training and competition facility not just for 2016’s Olympians but also for generations of canoers and kayakers to come.

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