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Seven nations in the mix for Fina Worlds, as Budapest lands water polo showpiece

The International Aquatics Federation (Fina) has said that seven nations are in contention for the hosting rights to its 2021 and 2023 World Championships, while the European Aquatics League (LEN) has awarded Budapest a two-year contract to stage its Champions League Final Six water polo showpiece.

Fina received expressions of interest from Argentina, Australia, China, Germany, Japan, Turkey and Qatar for its 2021 and 2023 Worlds. The federation added that Australia and China’s bids would include Melbourne or Sydney and Wuhan or Nanjing, respectively, while Germany has also put forward two unnamed cities. Hosting rights are expected to be assigned by the end of this year.

Fina in March opened a new bidding process for its 2021 Worlds after announcing that Budapest would be the new host of its 17th World Championships and World Masters Championships in July 2017. Having been originally scheduled to host the 2021 event, the Hungarian capital replaced Guadalajara as host for 2017 after the Mexican city withdrew amid funding concerns.

The 16th Fina World Championships will take place in Kazan, Russia from July 24 to August 9. Following Budapest 2017, the 18th World Championships will be hosted by Gwangju, Korea in 2019.

Concerning the bidding process for 2021 and 2023, Fina president Julio Maglione said: “We are delighted with the strong level of interest from a number of different cities who want to host swimming’s showcase event. I believe that they are all attracted by the evidence that the Fina World Championships brings clear economic, social, cultural, tourism and sports impacts to every host city. There is a measurable benefit through better youth and community facilities, through high-performance opportunities, and through showcasing your city to a global audience.

“Fina’s policy to name our next four hosts reinforces the stability of our calendar, which benefits national federations, and also our commercial and TV partners.”

Meanwhile, Budapest has secured another aquatic sports showpiece in the form of LEN’s Champions League Final Six. The Spanish city of Barcelona has hosted the first two editions of the water polo event, in 2014 and 2015, with Budapest now set to take over for the next two years on the back of its staging of the 2014 European Water Polo Championships.

“The memories of the magnificent European Championships are still with us since the event was a real hit,” LEN president Paolo Barelli said. “We saw water polo could offer perfect entertainment for thousands of fans on site and millions of TV viewers if it’s held in a perfect environment, in great atmosphere, played by the best teams and players. Budapest just offered this last summer and we are confident that we will witness wonderful events in the years to come.”

For 2016, the planned venue is the same as it was for the 2014 Europeans – the Alfred Hajos Pool on the Margaret Island. The 2017 Final Six is set to become the inaugural event of Budapest’s brand new, state-of-the-art aquatic complex, being constructed for the 2017 Fina World Championships.

Hungarian Water Polo Federation president Denes Kemeny added: “Without the government’s guarantee we couldn’t have taken this opportunity, we should be grateful for the state’s support. The country, the capital can benefit a lot from the Champions League Final Six tournaments as many other nations will broadcast the event live, placing us into the focus of attention once more.”