European Swimming Championships Rescheduled For May 2021 In Budapest; 2020 Water Polo Cups Cancelled

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Katinka Hosszu - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

The European Swimming Championships have been rescheduled to May 2021. Budapest will remain the host, on May 10-23, a year after the continental showcase for aquatic sports was due to have taken place before the intervention of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

After LEN announced in March that last month that its showcase championships, scheduled for May 11-24 would be postponed until August 17 to 30, that timetable was ruled out by the Budapest organisers and the European Swimming League (LEN) against a backdrop of more than 120,000 deaths from the virus in Europe.

Among nations with the highest infection and mortality rates are leading swim nations Britain, Italy, Spain and France. The curve in the rate of infections is starting to flatten but virologists and other experts continue to advocate extreme caution at a time when a vaccine and remedies that have gone through full clinical trials may be many months, if not a year, away.

The Duna Arena complex will stage most of the action, while Lake Lupa near Budapest will host the open water events.

The move to May returns the European Championships to the same distance from the Olympic Games as would have been the case in 2020 before Tokyo 2020 was shunted a year on from a July 21, 2020 date to a Tokyo 2021 start date of July 23.

The LEN Bureau or board meet in a web conference on Saturday ahead of continued talks with Budapest, where organisers were keen to do all they could to keep the showcase event in the Hungarian capital. The shift to spring 2021 will include the European Masters Championships, which is set to follow the elite event, the precise dates yet to be determined, while LEN’s announcement today came with sadder news for water polo: the 2020 LEN Water Polo Cups have been cancelled.

Last week, LEN also cancelled the European Junior Championships. Paolo Barelli, the president of LEN, noted:

“LEN’s priority is above all the health and safety of all athletes, coaches and of the whole LEN family. By cancelling some of the 2020 LEN competitions and postponing others to 2021, LEN is protecting its Family and, at the same time, ensuring we can restart in 2021 stronger than before, with the organization of LEN events meeting the highest standards we have all been used to.”

Alluding to the fine atmosphere and knowledgeable crowds for which Budapest is known for, Barelli added: “LEN is grateful for the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian Swimming Association as they all were very supportive to establish the new dates for the championships in Budapest. I’m sure that the event, to be held in the same time-frame as it was planned for this season, will serve our athletes’ best interests in the new Olympic year. We also hope that by May 2021 our life will get back to normal and we can enjoy the usual magical atmosphere in the Duna Arena, great races in front of a sell-out crowd.”

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Tunde Szabo – Photo Courtesy: Tamaz Roth, Wikipedia

Tunde Szabo, now the Minister of State for Sports in Hungary, was known as the queen of silver linings in the era of Krisztina Egerszegi, who in 1996 joined Dawn Fraser as only the second member of the Olympic Triple Crown Club with a third Games Gold in the 200m backstroke, after wins in 1988 and 1992.

Szabo claimed Olympic 100m backstroke silver at Barcelona 1992 a year after silver in the same event at the 1991 World Championships in Perth, Australia. There were silvers, too, over 100m and 200m at the 1991 European Chamionships in Athens when Egerszegi crushed the 200m world mark with a sensational 2:06.62 effort that survived until the advent of shiny suits in 2008. It was silver over 100 and 200m backstroke, too, for Szabo, at the 1988 European Junior Championships at Amersfoort, The Netherlands.

Today, Szabo celebrated another silver lining: the survival of the European showcase in Budapest despite the challenges of COVID-19. She said:

“We are happy to reach an agreement on the new dates of the European Championships. Hungarians are in love with aquatics and especially after such an extraordinary period the people will be eager to watch the best athletes in action. I’m sure that next May will add another golden chapter to the rich
history of European Aquatics.”

The latest shift in the European calendar follows suggestions from Sándor Wladár, president of the Hungarian Swimming Association, that May 2021 was the most likely date for the rescheduled event. He told the M1 TV channel last week:

“It is not possible to organize a European Championship this year, that is for sure. Now it seems that it will be held in Budapest in May 2021.”

The LEN Congress, scheduled for November, had been suggested as the moment when the federation might come to a final decision on dates but with agreement already reached, the most important matter was informing athletes, coaches and domestic federations as fast as possible for the sake of planning.

The LEN announcement to federations:

Dear Federation Presidents, dear LEN Family, dear friends,

Today I wish you to update you on the decisions unanimously taken by the LEN Bureau on 3 May 2020 regarding the 2020 European Aquatics Championships and the 2020 LEN Water Polo Cups competitions.

• The 2020 European Aquatics Championships are now confirmed for 10-23 May 2021

The 2020 European Aquatics Championships in Swimming, Diving, Open Water Swimming, and Artistic Synchronised Swimming, originally planned for 11-24 May 2020 in Budapest (HUN) and provisionally re-planned at first for 17-30 August 2020, are now confirmed for 10-23 May 2021, in Budapest (HUN).

The decision to reschedule the Championships to 10-23 May 2021 has been taken in full cooperation and agreement with the Hungarian Swimming Association, the Hungarian Government and local organizers. We believe it is realistic to hope that by May 2021 things will have returned to normal, hence allowing the organization of an exceptional event.

• The 2020 LEN Water Polo Cups competitions are cancelled

This means that there will be no continuation or additional games related to the 2019-2020 Water Polo Champions Leagues, the 2019-2020 Water Polo Euro League Women and the 2019-2020 Water Polo Euro Cup.

We obviously plan to re-establish the above mentioned competitions for the 2020-2021 season.

The above decisions have not been taken lightheartedly by LEN, but I am convinced that under the current circumstances it was the most appropriate decision.

LEN’s priority is above all the health and safety of all athletes, coaches and of the whole LEN family. By cancelling some of the 2020 LEN competitions and postponing others to 2021, LEN is protecting its Family and, at the same time, ensuring we can restart in 2021 stronger than before, with the organization of LEN events meeting the highest standards we have all been used to.

Once again, all the best and good health to all of you and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Kindest regards

Paolo Barelli – LEN President

 

 

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Karen

    Any ideas of the start date of European Masters 31 May?

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      No precise dates set yet, Karen… told they are still discussing.