Fina has selected Barthelona, ahem, Barcelona, Spain to host the 2013 Fina Long Course World Championships at its first annual World Aquatics Convention in Uruguay. In July, FINA announced that at this convention, they would select the winner of the renewed bid for 2013, after Dubai pulled out. Dubai cited the desire to invest in the sport from the grassroots level, rather than starting at the top, when it decided to pull out. They will still host this year’s Short Course World Championships.
Fina President Julio Maglione indicated that there were several reasons why Barcelona was chosen, including its strong infrastructure, and support from both local and national governments. He also mentioned that it was a small homage to former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who recently passed away at 89, and was a Barcelona native.
Other rumored finalists for the bid, which was done in an unusually compact time frame, included South Korea and Australia. Barcelona previously hosted the event in 2003, and also has the experience of hosting the 1992 Olympic Games. The Spanish federation will face a unique challenge in 2013, as all indicators (including straight from the mouth of the man himself) point to Michael Phelps retiring after the London Olympics in 2012. Organizers will be tested as the first major swimming event in the pending vacuum of the post-Phelps era, and could struggle to maintain the same level of interest the sport has garnered over the past few seasons.