The event was originally scheduled to take place from June 25 to July 5, 2021 in Oran, Algeria. After the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo were moved to 2021, however, the Mediterranean Games were also postponed to avoid the direct conflict with the much larger multi-sport event. The new dates are exactly a year later, from June 25 to July 5, remaining in Oran, Algeria.
The Mediterranean Games are a massive multi-sport event that was first held in Egypt in 1951. Since then, the Games have been held about every 4 years since. Through 1991, the event was held in a pre-Olympic year, but beginning in 1993 it has been held mostly in post-Summer Olympic years. The event includes nations from Europe, Asia, and Africa that have coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea, or are very close.
The new dates align so that the closing ceremony will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the independence of Algeria.
At present, 26 countries participate in the Games:
- Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia
- Asia: Lebanon and Syria
- Europe: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey
The countries of Portugal, Androra, Kosovo, San Marino, Serbia, and North Macedonia don’t border the Mediterranean, but have been included none-the-less. Among the Mediterranean-bordering regions with National Olympic Committees that haven’t participated are Israel, Palestine, and Great Britain. Great Britain is eligible through Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory that sits in the Strait of Gibraltar as it enters the Mediterranean Sea.
Italy leads the all-time medals table for the event with 2,303, followed by France (1,740) Spain (1,322), and Turkey (862). Italy, France, and Spain have been the dominant nations in the swimming competitions.
Swimming, diving, open water swimming, water polo are the four aquatic sports included in the Meditteranean Games.
The event often draws top-tier swimmers from the region to compete. In 2018, among the medal-winning names were Mireia Belmonte, Marie Wattel, Simona Quadarella, Margharita Panziera, Jessica Vall, Farida Osman, and Elena di Liddo on the women’s side. On the men’s side, the 2018 Games saw participation from Gregorio Paltrinieri, Fabio Scozzoli, Velimir Stjepanovic, Luca Dotto, Alessandro Miressi, Kristian Gkolomeev, and Algeria’s breakout star Oussama Sahnoune.
The dates of the 3rd edition of the Mediterranean Beach Games have also been confirmed. That event, featuring competitions that take place on-or-near beaches, will take place from September 16th-23td in Pesaro, Italy. The aquatic sports in the Beach Games are Aquathlon, open water swimming, and finswimming.
FINA, the international governing body for aquatic sports, has not yet announced a decision on what to do with the 2021 World Aquatics Championships. At present, the event overlaps with the scheduled 2021 Olympic Games. FINA has said that they were not interested in pushing the World Championships to 2022, though a survey sent out to athletes to gather input did include that as an option.