Guadalajara Cancels As Host Of 2017 World Championships; FINA Financial Demands Too High

Photo Courtesy: ADAM CAIRA

GUADALAJARA – Money issues have forced Mexico to withdraw from hosting the 2017 FINA world championships in Guadalajara, with organizers saying they cannot afford the $100 million price tag that goes with hosting the multi-sport aquatic event.

The money to host the event was to come from Mexican federal funds, but recent budget cuts as a result of falling oil prices means the money needed to put on the competition is no longer available. But Mexico does not get away cleanly; the country will have to pay FINA a $5 million penalty for the withdrawal and had already spent $9.5 million of the $100 million budget. FINA had additional dollar requirements tied to the event that clearly impacts the host city.

“After reviewing the budget, we have determined that we must inform FINA that Mexico cannot host the world championships,” said Jesus Mena, the director of the Mexican National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport, in an article on excelsior.com.

The world championships was scheduled for July 15-30. The announcement comes as a bit of surprise, since Guadalajara had successfully hosted the 2011 Pan American Games and was given the job of hosting the world championships just weeks later. The city still has the facilities for competition, including the indoor Scotiabank Aquatics Center, which would greatly reduce the construction costs for the country.

This puts the global aquatic organization in dire straits as it scrambles to find a host for the 2017 event, and the Masters world championships that was to follow. In an interview with the Uruguyan press, FINA Director Julio Maglione said the news “is very painful for us.” It is not known which cities FINA would consider to host the event. Guadalajara won the bid for the 2017 worlds after China and Canada withdrew their bids. Canada is preparing for the 2016 short course world championships in Windsor, while China just hosted worlds in 2011 in Shanghai.

Swimming World contacted USA Swimming to gauge an interest in hosting the event. “We would love to host a long course world championships in the United States, but the economic requirements make it impossible for us to seriously consider,” said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director.

These are strong words coming from the leader of an organization in a wealthy country like the United States.

John Leonard, Executive Director for the American and World Swimming Coaches associations was a little more pointed when he said: “This is certainly a sad moment for our Mexican friends. But it is understandable because FINA has now inflated the price of a world championships beyond what any democracy would consider prudent to pay for a sports event. FINA will be mired forever into using facilities in autocratic countries where a ruling elite can make a decision to over-spend for the ‘sporting prestige’ of hosting such an event, which means that FINA and the democracies are finished with each other. It’s unfortunate that an organization charged with representing all of us now truly works only with the autocracies. We all deserve better. But then, FINA knows best how to line its own pockets. They are experts at it.”

This year’s world long course championships will be held in Kazan, Russia, in early August.

10 Comments

10 comments

  1. Desireé Tornell

    qué “Mexican moment” ni qué nada 🙁

  2. avatar
    Linn K Hansen

    Probably FINA should take this as a hint for the future, when both Mexico and USA come to the point that the expenses are to high? And, are there any other candidates for the 2017 at the present time?

  3. avatar
    jackback

    FINA needs to be replaced. Sooner rather then later.

    • avatar
      Ramio

      FINA does not need to be replaced, but rather the decision makers in FINA, for example the current president of FINA.

  4. Jack Martin

    The Ft Lauderdale Swimming Hall of Fame Pool! Reopen it with a bang!

  5. avatar
    Tamer KUNLAR

    Mr. FINA President, please tell us who’s gonna be the next with such high budgets?
    And;
    Why Baku, why Kazan?
    Who will be next from East to host?

  6. avatar
    J Wright

    Well 5-10,000 master swimmers have an event infusion to the local economy of $25 million plus tourism fallout before and after the FINA WAMC. This is the main reason master swimmers make the FINA WAN viable and why the Masters was made to piggyback.

  7. avatar
    Dunc1952

    USA Swimming immediately declined to be extorted by FINA in Guadalajara’s place. On a quick analysis, bravo; but we might want to re-think this strategy in the long term battle to re-shape FINA to serve the broader interests of the sport, its athletes and fans. We need to understand how monies produced in support of the sport, whether developed in democratic countries or extracted in autocratic nations, are allocated/spent. FINA needs to show where the money goes and justify how its allocation serves the sport and not individuals or oligarchies.

    What parts of the FINA fees requirements for assignment of their events can arguably be said to be spent to make a better event? I’m sure there may be some; I’m just as sure it is far below the amounts required for bids.

    For many years, the USA has been willing to build pools, whether permanent or temporary, in either open areas (Woolett; Long Beach parking lot) or indoor arenas (Jamail/IUPUI, Omaha’s Trials meets and 2004 SC Worlds in Indianapolis) with only the 2004 meet bearing the FINA label. US OTrials, Pan Pacific, Pan American, USA Nationals, ARENA Pro Swimming nee’ Grand Prix, NCAAs have all been held in the US, without unjustified FINA expense add-ons, which were all events of adequate quality to produce World Records. (except maybe the Indy Pan-Ams?)

    BOYCOTT?
    If no one steps forward in the next few months willing to take over 2017 under the FINA terms that drove Guadalajara under, I’d encourage USA Swimming to consider making a proposal to host the meet with at least the same type of production/event qualities as have gone into our recent Olympic Trials events. As a nod to appropriate FINA functions and their actual legitimate expenses, the bid could consider inclusion of additional items FINA can justify to a bidder as beneficial to the sport.

    If instead the event (or others in future FINA orbit) are granted either to: 1) federations where there is not great interest or demonstrated skill in the sport but simply available financing to further corrupt FINA activity, or 2) federations whose internal drug testing authorities, who would be responsible for testing at the event, are not in good stead with WADA, then —-

    WE SHOULD CONSIDER BOYCOTTING THE FINA EVENT AND INSTEAD HOLD THE ASCA/WCA/WORLD AQUATIC INVITATIONAL, SENDING OUT UNIVERSAL INVITATIONS, TRYING TO DRAW OFF AS MANY COUNTRIES FROM THE FINA EVENT AS POSSIBLE, USING THE POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS AS A “MAILING List,” to possibly begin formation of an alternative to FINA.

    Might at least create a little leverage to reach accommodations on the most egregious FINA problems ($ & drugs & corrupt administration).

Author: Jeff Commings

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Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for SwimmingWorld.com and Swimming World Magazine. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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