After the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games, many sporting events planned for 2021 have to be rescheduled.
Among the competition which will get new dates is the 19th FINA World Championships for aquatic sports, which is scheduled for July 16 – August 1. The Olympic Games will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
After the IOC postponed the Olympic Games ( but the new dates still weren’t confirmed), Colin Marculescu, FINA executive director, said that the Championships in Fukuoka would be held in 2021, for sure.
But, it seems that moving the Fukuoka Championships to 2022 becomes one of the possibilities.
“I need to see the information from Fukuoka, from the partners, from television, from everybody. And then we can have a conclusion,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
When he was asked about his previous comments, Marculescu neither confirmed nor denied the option of holding the competition in Fukuoka in 2021.
“For that reason, I don’t want to have any opinion, because it doesn’t reflect the reality,” Marculescu said and added that FINA probably would need two weeks to determine new dates.
Moving the World Championships to dates before the Olympic Games isn’t possible since the water polo tournament at the Olympic Games is one of the qualifying competitions for Fukuoka. The four male and four female teams will earn World Championships berths in Tokyo. The FINA Championships before the Olympic Games would also conflict with the continental and national qualifications in other aquatic sports
FINA faces a complicated task because each of the possible decisions has adverse effects.
As for water polo, holding the World Championships two months after the Tokyo Games would be risky because the teams won’t have a lot of time to prepare for Fukuoka. The preparation would be complicated especially for the squads that will have to wait for the end of the Olympics to find out if they will qualify for the Worlds or not. Also, many top athletes might not come because they need a break after the end of the Olympic cycle.
Another problem in this option can be the weather in Fukuoka in late September or early October. The competitions in water polo, swimming, diving, and artistic swimming will be held in the indoor pools, but it won’t be easy for high divers and open water swimmers to compete in autumn.
This choice would make a lot of problems for the continental and national federations to modify their calendars. For example, the water polo competitions for clubs usually starts late in September.
The second option is May-June 2022, which will also conflict with many continental and national events, including LEN Champions League, FINA World League…. The 2022 European Water Polo Championships will be held in Split. The dates haven’t been confirmed, but LEN would like to stage Championships in Split in July. Still, it won’t be so challenging to select later dates. The problem for the Mediterranean countries would be that the 2021 Mediterranean Games have been postponed for a year.
But, all in all, the holding World Championships in Fukuoka in 2022 is likely the most realistic option. The continental and national federation will have a lot of time to adapt their calendars.
Another reason why moving the Championships to 2022 seems like the most probable decision is the reaction of the Canadian Swimming Federation, which called FINA to postpone the competition to 2022 “for a variety of reasons.”
“Having the two premier Games and championships staged close together in the same year would create many challenges. From budgets to program planning, to timing, to the risks of athletes being overloaded, there are so many unknowns. As we continue to navigate the uncertainty of this current global situation, we encourage FINA and World Para Swimming to choose 2022 as the best alternative for the world championships.” John Atkinson, head of performance at Swimming Canada, said yesterday.
Don’t forget, Canada was the first country that announced that it would not send its athletes to the Tokyo Games if they are held this year. Quickly after the Canadians’ reaction, the IOC officially postponed the Games.
Today, the Organizing Committee of the Fukuoka Championships issued a statement in which said:
“While closely communicating and discussing with FINA, the Japanese government, the host cities, the Japanese Swimming Federation, the host broadcaster and other related parties, the Fukuoka OC will proceed with considering the new schedule of the Championships in an effort to take an athlete-centered approach and host the event in its complete form, without downsizing any aspect of the event”.
Fukuoka will host the FINA World Championships for the second time. The previous one was held in 2001.