Britain Urges Montreal Rethink for World Champs

LONDON, January 19. BRITISH Swimming is urging FINA and Montreal to come to a suitable resolution after the world governing body announced it was canceling an agreement with the Canadian city to host this summer's World Championships.

The 11th FINA World Championships, encompassing swimming, diving, open water swimming, water polo and synchronized swimming, were due to take place in Montreal between 17th and 31st July 2005.

However, financial difficulties have put the event in serious doubt. Organizers had commitments for only Can$4 million (US$3.3 million) of the Can$12 million (US$9.8m) they needed to generate through private sponsorship to host the event.

Ticket sales have also been disappointing with a shortfall of Can$5.5 million (US$4.5m) of the Can$6 million (US$5.3m) they hoped to raise through ticket sales.

The Montreal meet was expected to attract some 2,000 athletes, coaches and officials from 160 countries, as well as thousands of fans and worldwide media.

British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes is disappointed that problems have not been resolved and says pulling out of Montreal at this stage would be a disaster.

"This is a massive disappointment for the nations involved, the athletes and swimming as a whole," said Sparkes.

"I'm very concerned and am urging all parties to find a way of putting this event back on the rails. World swimming needs to be in Montreal this summer."

At an extraordinary meeting of the FINA Bureau today it was announced that a short bid procedure would be opened to allow national federations to express an interest in organizing this summer's championships.
FINA will announce by 15th February 2005 the National Federation/City organizing the championships.

The press release stated: "The FINA Bureau regrets having had to make this decision but this was necessary to secure the holding of the Championships 2005."