World Aquatics Moves Open Water World Cup Stop from Israel to Portugal


World Aquatics Moves Open Water World Cup Stop from Israel to Portugal

Due to escalating hostilities in the Middle East, World Aquatics on Thursday announced it will relocate the final leg of its Open Water World Cup from Eliat, Israel, to Funchal, Portugal.

The event was originally scheduled to be the final World Cup stop, on Dec. 1-2 in Eliat. It is being moved back a day to Dec. 2-3 and will take place in Funchal.

The events will include a men’s and women’s 10-kilometer events, followed by a mixed 4 x 1,500 relay. As the final event, it will also be where World Aquatics gives out season winners, including the men’s and women’s winners and new World Cup Sprint Champion and the World Cup Junior Champion in both men’s and women’s categories.

In a statement, World Aquatics cited, “ensuring athlete safety remains the paramount concern” in the decision to move the events away from Eliat.

The event is the fifth of the World Aquatics Open Water World Cup. The fourth leg, slated for August in the River Seine in Paris, was cancelled due to untenable conditions at the venue. Setubal, Portugal, hosted Leg 3 in May, after stops in Egypt’s Soma Bay and Golfo Aranci, Italy.

World Aquatics most recently held the World Junior Championships in Netanya, Israel. There’s precedent for moving an event out of the area due to simmering tensions, with the 2014 Junior Open Water World Championships moved from Eliat to Hungary by FINA. Fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group has claimed hundreds of lives in recent days.

Many of the individual point races are extremely close heading into the final event of the season. Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands, for instance, leads Germany’s Leonie Beck by only 10 points in the women’s competition, while three women are tied for the lead in the junior women’s race.

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