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Fina postpones Abu Dhabi’s short course World Swimming Championships

Fina president Julio Maglione (R) hands over flag to 15th World Swimming Championships (25m) to Abu Dhabi (by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Fina, the global governing body for aquatic sports, has moved this year’s World Swimming Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi to 2021 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fina today (Thursday) said the switch had been made following a request by United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities, stating the rescheduling will safeguard athletes’ health and safety. Initially programmed to take place in December, the new dates for the competition are December 13-18, 2021, with the World Aquatics Convention also taking place in Abu Dhabi, from December 10-12 next year.

Fina awarded hosting rights to Abu Dhabi in July 2015. The event will mark the second time that the World Swimming Championships (25m) will take place in the UAE in recent history, with Dubai having staged the 2010 Championships.

Confirmation of Abu Dhabi as host came after the city missed out on the 2018 Championships, which Fina awarded to the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Fina president Julio Maglione said: “We have worked in close co-operation during the last weeks with the UAE authorities on this matter and we believe this is the most suitable solution for all those taking part in this competition.

“The Abu Dhabi rendezvous in December 2021 will be a great achievement and will once more be a strong inspiration for the development of swimming and aquatics in the region.”

The World Swimming Championships (25m) becomes the latest major event rescheduled by Fina. Earlier this month, the governing body confirmed new dates for its World Championships and World Masters Championships in Japan, moving them back from 2021 to 2022 following the postponement of the 2020 summer Olympic Games due to Covid-19.

In March, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were officially rescheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, 2021, following a new agreement between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.

The Fina World Championships were one of the most high-profile events affected by the news, with the world governing body quickly moving to state that it would consult with the organisers of its 2021 Championships in Fukuoka to examine a revision to the original dates of July 16 to August 1 next year.

Fina this month announced that following consultation with the city of Fukuoka, Japan Swimming Federation, organisers, athletes, coaches, technical committees, broadcast partners and sponsors, the World Championships will now take place from May 13-29, 2022.

The World Masters Championships, which were due to follow from August 3-12, 2021, will now take place across the island of Kyushu from May 31 to June 9, 2022.

In other news, Fina has today announced that its general congress, where the Fina Bureau for the period 2021 to 2025 is to be elected, will take place on June 5, 2021 in Doha. The new members of the Bureau will begin their terms immediately after the conclusion of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Fina is poised to receive a new president for its next cycle. In July 2017, Maglione was re-elected for a third term as the president of Fina. The Uruguayan overcame the challenge of Italian Paolo Barelli, the president of the European Swimming Federation (LEN), by 258 votes to 77.

At the time, it was decided that Fina Bureau members could now only be elected for a maximum of three full terms.