Delayed European Championships To Start In Budapest On Monday

Duna Arena: Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

The European Championships get under way in Budapest on Monday with 51 countries – all but one of the national swimming federations – set to participate across swimming, open water, diving and artistic swimming.

The Championships were initially scheduled for May 2020 but were postponed in the wake of the coronavirus.

They will be held behind closed doors in a bubble at the Duna Arena – which hosted the 2017 World Championships and 2020 International Swimming League – with the open water being staged at Lake Lupa, to the north of the Hungarian capital.

The strictest of covid protocols will be followed with all those involved – athletes, teams, media, host broadcaster, LEN officials, volunteers and security personnel – all restricted to the hotels and venues and will all undergo regular testing.

Budapest stages the LEN continental showcase for the fifth time as Hungary plays host for the sixth occasion with Debrecen having staged the event in 2012.

The competition runs from Monday 10 to Sunday 23 May as diving and artistic swimming kick off the action at the Duna Arena.

The first medals will be decided in the diving team event final and the duet tech and mixed duet finals in the artistic swimming.

The open water starts at Lake Lupa on Wednesday  with the women’s and men’s 5km followed on Thursday by the 10km races.

The pool programme will then run from 7-23 May.

Paolo Barelli, the president of European aquatic governing body LEN, said:

Paolo Barelli LEN President Press Conference 33rd LEN European Water Polo Championships - Barcelona 2018 Barcelona (ESP) - Piscines Bernat Picornell Photo Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Paolo Barelli: Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

“Today this is the only way to organise such a large-scale event but I am sure, that despite all measures and strict protocols, our fantastic athletes will come up with outstanding performances.

“Let me thank them for their commitment as they had to train amidst extraordinary circumstances.

“Similarly, LEN is extremely grateful for all coaches, officials and for each National Federation that even during these challenging times they did their utmost to keep up the desired level in their everyday activities.

“This dedication makes Europe the leading continent in aquatics.

“If we look at the entries, we see that everyone is eager to compete with 24-25 nations entered for diving, artistic swimming and open water respectively, and despite the existing lockdown measures throughout the continent, a record of 51 nations are to take part in the swimming competitions.

“LEN is really proud that we could welcome all our athletes, the leading aquatic stars and offer them a racing opportunity of the highest standards at the European Aquatics Championships.”

President of the Hungarian Swimming Association and head of the organising committee, Sandor Wladar, said that cancelling the event was never a real option, saying:

“The Hungarian Government offered outstanding support in all fields and that made this event possible – something we and the LEN Family should be grateful for.

“We never really considered the option of cancellation, we always believed that we could welcome the LEN Family in Budapest – and now it becomes reality.

“We are close to the finish line, or, as a former swimmer, may I say: to the wall.

“Soon we touch it – but this effort can only be a success if all participants offer its contribution and support since we are maintaining the largest bubble the sporting world has seen so far as we need
to take care of three thousand people inside.”

Budapest will offer preparation for the athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, said Wladar.

“In Tokyo, they will meet even stricter rules, daily testing so this event is also a great opportunity to learn to live in a bubble and what this requires from an individual.

“Believe me, it can be challenging sometimes so the European Championships is not the only top-level meet before the Olympics where the athletes can test themselves in the pool but it can also prepare them to get used to the circumstances they may face at the Games.”

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