The news on the postponement of the 19th World Championships to 2023 hasn’t been published by FINA’s official website. However, many reliable sources confirmed the information that appeared on Friday.
This decision forces national teams to make modifications to their preparation programs in a year that was supposed to be packed with water polo competitions. For instance, according to the current LEN clubs’ competition calendar, most of the cups will end by April, while the season in the Champions League will be paused during April and May and restarted in June. The European Championship in Split is scheduled for late summer (August 27 – September 10).
After knowing about the postponement, some water polo coaches and players were surprised. Some expected a decision like this was.
Dejan Savic, head coach of the Olympic champions, told Total Waterpolo:
“About ten days ago, we knew that it was almost sure that the championship would be postponed, so only an official confirmation was missing. It’s a fact that the decision was made only four months before the scheduled start of the competition. But, we are used to living in uncertainty from the beginning of the pandemic. To remind, the Olympic Games were postponed several months before the scheduled start.
We continue to work, and we are ready to adapt our preparations plans. But firstly, we have to wait if LEN will modify its calendar and make new plans according to that . Moving to 2023 is undoubtedly a better decision than the other option of rescheduling. Recently, information about the possibility of postponing the Fukuoka Championships for October this year appeared. If that had happened, it would have been a cataclysm because we would have European and World championships within two months “.
Ivica Tucak, Croatia’s head coach was surprised.
“I was unpleasantly surprised to hear the news about the new postponement of the Championships. The situation regarding the coronavirus is very bad at the moment, but the decision on the new postponement is not in line with the sport. I think that an option should have been found to hold the World Championship this year., despite the fact that the European Championships will be played this year. The Fukuoka Championships were moved to 2023. Consequently, the next Worlds will be rescheduled to the Olympic year. So, as things stand now, three big water polo competitions are planned for 2024 – the Olympic Games, World and, and the European championships.”
The winner of the 2018 Total Player Award Felippe Perrone said that the decision was reasonable, but underlined that FINA and LEN should think about the athletes.
“Until the pandemia is not over, every delay of the competitions is, of course, understandable. However, the new schedule is very busy and I hope that FINA and LEN will take into account the athletes when making the decision.”, Perrone commented for Total Waterpolo.
Konstantinos Kakaris, Greece’s and Jug’s center-forward:
“It’s bad to hear the news like this. We have to accept this decision. Corona dictates everything, and we can do nothing against that. Everything changes now. But, we should try to see a positive side of this situation, if it exists, of course. At least, we will have more time to prepare for the European championship in Split.
Hungarian website Vlv.hu spoke to Marton Vamos, the member of the Hungarian national team, who said:
“I’m disappointed and outraged. It’s tough to experience the same situation twice – the Olympics were postponed for a year. Two years after the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, vaccines are available almost everywhere, many people have three vaccinations, I would respectfully ask: why are we vaccinating ourselves if not to be able to play in world competitions?
We are less than four months away from the start of the planned World Championships. Obviously, the “official” justification is that you can’t do anything like that, you have to calm down, but I don’t see it that way.
For athletes, this is an extremely difficult decision with consequences. We prepare hard, we train, we sacrifice everything for a set goal, and somewhere in an office, they make that decision easily, which makes our work meaningless, takes away our hopes, mentally completely prepares us. It is very difficult to go through this, and a second time. I don’t even think primarily of myself, but of players who are older than me“.