Clarification of IOF Competition rule 21.3 concerning equipment

Posted on | June 2, 2009 | Category: News

A new version of the IOF Competition Rules for Foot Orienteering has become valid from 1 June 2009. This version includes an update of rule 21.3 concerning equipment. The rule says:

“During the competition the only navigational aids that competitors may use or carry are the map and control descriptions provided by the organiser, and a compass.”


The IOF’s motive for implementing the amended wording of rule 21.3 is to preserve the basic values of the sport of orienteering, namely to navigate using map and compass only. The development in the area of small, hand-held positioning and navigation devices is very rapid and the IOF believes it would be impossible to maintain the sport’s basic values while allowing free the use of such devices. It follows, as a consequence, that the carrying of such devices during a competition must be prohbited. Hence the IOF Council’s decision to clarify rule 21.3 to take validity from June 1, 2009 at all IOF events, meaning The World Games, the World Championships, the World Cup, World Ranking Events, the Junior World Championships and the World Masters Orienteering Championships.

What is allowed?

The IOF is aware of the increasing popularity of GPS-based position recording devices over the last years as a tool for post-race analysis of performance and to share route-choice information etc. This is welcomed, and it is not the intention to prohibit such usage. The IOF, therefore, wants to make it clear that any position recording device that is not capable of informing the athlete about position or navigation during the race, is allowed. In practice this means that GPS data-logger devices without a display or sound communication may be used in all the above mentioned IOF events.


The IOF is committed to implementing rule 21.3 at the 2009 world events, and will take action to monitor compliance. This will be in different forms, both proactive and reactive. It should be clear that an athlete that carries a device that has the functionality to inform about position, direction, distance or altitude during the competition will risk disqualification. It should be clear that covering a display with a temporary seal, such as tape or other means, is not accepted.

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