LAUSANNE, January 19. DESPITE a flurry of frenetic, last-minute activity by the Montreal and Quebec business communities, during which several million Canadian dollars were pledged to keep the 11th FINA World Championships in the Canadian city this July, FINA, the sport's governing body, has decided unanimously to cancel its contract with the Montreal Organising Committee, pull the meet from Montreal and searh for another venue.
In a prepared statement, FINA said it expects to announce a new venue no later than February 15.
This is the first time FINA has taken such action, but it is the third major athletic event Montreal has lost in the last two years.
The following is the FINA statement issued a few minutes ago:
"The FINA Bureau held today an extraordinary meeting in Frankfurt (GER) and considered all the aspects in relation to the organisation of the 11th FINA World Championships in Montreal, Québec, Canada.
"Based on the great success of participation, TV audience, media exposure and spectators attendance with the occasion of the 10th FINA World Championships Barcelona 2003 and the FINA competitions at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the FINA Bureau underlined the importance to reinforce the credibility of the World Championships, the biggest world Aquatic event, and the worldwide value of the FINA brand.
"FINA has been in contact with the Organising Committee and all stakeholders involved in the organisation of the Championships and has done its utmost to organise the 11th FINA World Championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
"As FINA did not receive, as requested, by 18th January 2005, the confirmation that the Championships would be organised by OC Montreal 2005 in accordance with the commitments and signed agreements in July 2001 and with reference to a notice given already on 11th August 2004, followed by various requests for confirmation of the contractual obligations, the Bureau decided unanimously to terminate the agreement and cancel the organisation of the 11th FINA World Championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
"Furthermore, the FINA Bureau decided to open a short Bid procedure to allow the National Federations to express their interest in organising the 11th FINA World Championships from 17th – 31st July 2005.
"FINA will announce no later than 15th February 2005 the National Federation / City organising these Championships.
"The FINA Bureau regrets having had to make this decision but this was necessary to secure the holding of the Championships 2005."