Fukuoka and Doha land Fina World Championships, Mexican federation suspended

The International Aquatics Federation (Fina) has awarded its 2021 and 2023 World Championships and World Masters Championships to Fukuoka and Doha, respectively, while it has suspended the Mexican Swimming Federation (FMN) over Guadalajara’s withdrawal of hosting rights to the 2017 event.

The award of the 2021 and 2023 World Championships to the Japanese city and the Qatari capital was made yesterday (Sunday) after a vote of the Fina Bureau ahead of the staging of the World Aquatics Gala in Budapest, Hungary. The Chinese city of Nanjing was the third bidder for the organisation of the championships.

In March 2015, Fina opened a new bidding process for its 2021 Worlds after confirming that Budapest would stage the 17th World Championships and World Masters Championships in July 2017. The Hungarian capital had been awarded the 2021 event, but will instead replace Guadalajara as host for 2017 after funding concerns forced the Mexican city to withdraw.

Fina president Julio C. Maglione said: “Today we were presented three extraordinary bids fulfilling all requirements and having great facilities. Both winning cities, Fukuoka and Doha, are strong partners of Fina and will offer optimal conditions for the organisation of these Championships. There is a very strong commitment from the local authorities to welcome this event in their respective dynamic metropolis.”

Doha previously hosted the 2014 World Swimming Championships (25m), while Fukuoka stages Fina’s showcase event for the second time, after a successful edition in 2001. Fukuoka has outlined a concept of ‘Compact in size, Big in enthusiasm’, with all venues for the six aquatic disciplines set to be located in a 600m-radius.

Two main competition hubs will be created for Doha’s staging of the 2023 Worlds. The Aspire Zone complex will host swimming, synchronised swimming and water polo events, while open water swimming and high diving will take place close to the city’s Museum of Islamic Art.

The Russian city of Kazan hosted the 2015 Worlds from July 24 to August 9 last year. Following Budapest 2017 the World Championships and World Masters Championships will head to the Korean city of Gwangju in 2019. In other event news, Canadian organisers of the 2016 World Swimming Championships (25m) in Windsor said the competition will have a six-day programme, from December 6-11, for the first time in its history.

Meanwhile, Fina has issued a temporary suspension to the FMN in the wake of Guadalajara’s exit from the 2017 Worlds, while it has appointed Carrard Consulting to assess and review its corporate governance.

Fina said the FMN has been suspended for “not fulfilling contractual obligations concerning the cancellation of the 2017 Fina World Championships in Guadalajara.” The federation’s regulations state that sanctions can be imposed “if duties and financial obligations to Fina are not fulfilled.”

The Mexican Sports Institute cited budget shortfalls as falling oil prices hit the country’s economy to be the reason behind its decision to withdraw in February 2015, an excuse Fina viewed sceptically, alleging shortfalls across Guadalajara’s preparations for the event.

Fina said Carrard Consulting has been hired “in order to fully comply with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) Declaration on Good Governance in Sport”. It added the Lausanne-based organisation has a remit to “assess and review Fina corporate governance and, based on this assessment and review, to provide, if needed, recommendations for improving the corporate governance policies, processes, and structures of Fina.”

Fina has been facing criticism over its internal operations and a perceived lack of transparency. A group led by the World Swim Coaches’ Association and American Swim Coaches’ Association has been calling for a complete accounting review of Fina.