European Championships To Go Ahead In May But Without Spectators

Kristof Milak: Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The European Championships will go ahead in Budapest, Hungary, in May but without spectators, LEN announced on Wednesday.

The event will run from 10-23 May in the Hungarian capital with some nations using it as a qualifying meet for Tokyo 2020.

The Duna Arena – which hosted the 2017 World Championships and the 2020 International Swimming League – will stage the swimming, diving and artistic swimming with the open water at Lupa Lake.

It had initially been scheduled for May 2020 before being rearranged in March last year  to run from 17-30 August.


Duna Arena: Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

However, it was announced in May that the event would be pushed back to 2021 with the pandemic wreaking havoc.

LEN president Paolo Barelli recently wrote to all the national federations confirming the championships would take place as scheduled.

In a statement released on Wednesday by the governing body, Barelli said:

“LEN is working hard with the Hungarian organisers to ensure that all required sanitary measures will be put in place, respected and fully enforced to guarantee the smooth running of the Championships and the safety of all athletes, coaches, officials and staff.

“This is indeed LEN’s priority.”

There will be strict measures put in place with everyone directly involved in the competition in a bubble that confines them to the hotel and venue with movement restricted between the two.

There will be testing on arrival with room keys only being handed over following a negative test and then again according to the proposed schedule by the medical service provider.

Barelli added that experience had been drawn from the safe staging of events which enabled the championships to go ahead, saying:

“The European Aquatics Championships in Budapest will be the first international European top event in swimming, diving, artistic swimming and open water swimming since 2019 and it offers a great testing opportunity for all our athletes before the Olympic Games.”


Photo Courtesy: LEN

Sandor Wladar, the president of the Hungarian Swimming Association, added:

“As usual, we enjoy the full support of the Government.

“The meeting of our strategic decision-making group has just finished.

“We have Sport Minister Tunde Szabo, State Secretary Balazs Furjes and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony on board and they all agreed that the Europeans should go ahead but we have to take the utmost caution as the pandemic is far from over.”

Wladar did though state that the event will be held behind without fans, a far cry from the light shows and raucous, passionate crowds that attended the 2017 worlds.

“We know that the aquatic family loves to come here as the sights and sounds in the Duna Arena are second to none when we have a full house – but this time we should consider safety first so most probably we have to stage this meet in front of empty stands.”

The first week of the championships from 10-16 May will see the diving and artistic swimming competitions in the Duna Arena and the open water swimming events in the nearby Lupa Lake, while swimming action is scheduled for 17-23 May in the arena.

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