After weeks of rumors and hearsay, FINA officially announced on February 1 that it is postponing the Fukuoka World Championships to July 2023.
“Given the current pandemic situation and the measures currently in place in Japan, FINA and key stakeholders of the Fukuoka 2022 Organising Committee have agreed to reschedule the 19th FINA World Championships to 14-30 July 2023,” FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said.
These World Championships should have occurred from May 13 – 29, 2022. This is now the second time this competition is pushed back. It was originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, until the Olympic Games were themselves postponed.
This in turn impacts the 2023 FINA World Championships originally slated for November in Doha. Those will move to January 2024, a mere six months before the Paris Olympics.
In its official statement, FINA says the reason for the postponement of these World Championships in Fukuoka is due to the current wave of COVID-19 in the country, sparked by the Omicron variant. Japan is indeed currently reaching all-time highs number of cases.
Soichiro Takashima, the mayor of Fukuoka, held a press conference last week where he already confirmed this postponement. There, he interestingly mentioned that “FINA is postponing the event because, due to Covid-19, countries can not organize internal meets or qualifiers to select representatives.”
As a result, there will be two World Championships and one Olympic Games in the span of one year this cycle.
With contracts and a tight schedule, it was likely nearly impossible to reschedule the event later in the year. A handful of multi-sports events are already planned, like the Summer University Games, the Commonwealth Games, the European Championships, the Asian Games or the South American Games. Add to that the plethora of water polo tournaments and swimming competitions, like the Short Course Championships or the ISL.
As of now, this postponement will affect some countries more than others in artistic swimming. European, Asian and South American nations will still be able to hone in on major continental championships. But many others are left in the dust.
For example, the U.S. now only has the FINA World Series on their calendars. That circuit itself has already been reduced, with four meets in total and only two in-person at this time. Canada and Australia face the same fate as artistic swimming is not on the Commonwealth Games programme anymore. Similarly, Mexico will not have much this season as the Central and Caribbean Games had already been postponed to 2023.
FINA still plans to run two major competitions in 2022 for the sport: the World Youth Championships from Aug 9 – 13 in the U.S., and the World Junior Championships from Aug 23 – 27 in Canada.
The new schedule for the masters championships will be announced at a later date. The last World Championships were hosted by South Korea in 2019.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
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