Athletes Present as Night Club Ceiling Collapses in Gwangju

James Sutherland contributed to this report.

The roof of Coyote Ugly night club Gwangju, South Korea, collapsed in the very early hours of Saturday morning with athletes present, sources tell SwimSwam. The club is one of two near the Athletes’ Village.

There are believed to be multiple severe injuries and fatalities in the incident, and a source present on the scene said that there was “lots of blood.” We have no confirmed information about the personnel involved, other than that athletes, including a few swimmers, were present.

Update: According to Yonhap News, the second floor of the club collapsed around 2:40 a.m. It also states that an American water polo player was among those injured. A source tells SwimSwam the player has a broken leg.

USA Water Polo gave SwimSwam the following statement, confirming some of its players were present:

“An incident occurred in Gwangju, South Korea in which USA Water Polo Senior National Team athletes were present. All USA Water Polo athletes are safe and accounted for. Our thoughts are with all those involved.”

Breaking New Agency Korea tweeted around 5:00 a.m. local time that a structural collapse in Gwangju led to one death and 13 injuries. That estimate has been increased to 14.

In the video below, screams can be heard as those present try to hold up the ceiling.


South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency cites a source who was present at the time that estimated about 20 foreigners, that appeared to be participating in the World Championships, were at the bar at the time of the collapse. Yonhap also reports that 3 water polo players who suffered minor injuries in the collapse returned to the athletes’ village. Women’s water polo competition at the 2019 World Championships is over; the men’s classification matches are scheduled for Saturday afternoon and evening in Gwangju.


Reports indicate that a female Dutch water polo player injured her hand in the incident.

Yonhap News has increased the death count from one to two and estimates that 370 people were in attendance when the roof collapsed. They also reported that 200 meters of the club were illegally expanded and that the “crumpled structure was also an illegal extension”.

USA Swimming has confirmed no American swimmers were injured.

A source also said the two people who were killed were not athletes.

Update: FINA Statement

FINA has issued a statement on the incident:

“FINA has been informed that an unfortunate accident occurred in the early hours of July 27, 2019 in a facility next to the Athletes Village of the 18th FINA World Championships in Gwangju (KOR).

As some Championships’ participants were present at the moment of the accident, FINA is carefully monitoring the situation and will activate all measures to ensure health care and assistance is provided whenever necessary.

FINA deeply regrets the situation and sends its best wishes to any victims of this accident.”


BBC reports that there are indeed two South Koreans dead and ‘more than 10’ injured. The two locals were taken to hospital in serious condition before dying. They were 38 and 27 and not athletes.

They also reported that two New Zealand water polo players suffered minor injuries, and a male diver and female water polo player from the U.S. team were slightly hurt.

“This is an awful tragedy,” said Christopher Ramsey, head of USA Water Polo.

“Players from our men’s and women’s teams were celebrating the women’s world championship victory when the collapse occurred at a public club. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families.”

Another source also provided some information on the structural integrity of the building, telling SwimSwam that there was a half-floor size second story above the main floor that wasn’t structurally sound and collapsed due to the weight. There were believed to be 370 people in the club at the time of the collapse.

British Swimming has confirmed in a statement that no members of the British aquatics team were present or involved in the incident.

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2 years ago

This is crazy!!! I hope everything’s okay for the all worlds athletes!!
Edit: changed to all athletes. Sentiment also carries to all affected by the incident

Reply to  monsterbasher
2 years ago

Why not all athletes??

Reply to  Dan
2 years ago

To that point…Why not everyone? regardless of athletic skills

Reply to  wonkabar23
2 years ago

Y’all lets not bicker over unintended offenses and focus on sending everyone involved good vibes.

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Why vibes? Why can’t we send them over good energy?

Reply to  eagleswim
2 years ago

vibes = energy ( i thought u would know that by now my friend )

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Braden for president

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

We could also pray for them but that may be too offensive.

2 years ago

Oh my gosh 🙁 praying for all the swimmers and everyone inside

Sports fan
2 years ago

OMG hope us athletes are fine

Reply to  Sports fan
2 years ago

*all athletes*

Reply to  Sports fan
2 years ago

Really?? That incentive to only hope for your Americans to be safe. Give your head a shake.

Reply to  Justin
2 years ago

Let’s chill y’all and send good vibrations out for all of those involved, and all of the families who are probably trying to contact their loved ones and find out if they’re safe.

2 years ago

Oh man prayers to the athletes involved as well as all of those just looking for a night out. Hope everyone recovers!

13 % Chinese person
Reply to  Nswim
2 years ago

Not likely if they are dead .

2 years ago


2 years ago

Hope everyone’s ok. And that any injured can make a full recovery.

2 years ago

Hoping everyone (athletes and others) are safe.

Andy Dwyer
2 years ago

This is terrible. Depending on how bad it is, maybe you should cancel or postpone the remaining competitions. Crazy to swim in that situation.
I just hope everything goes well after all.

WV Swammer
Reply to  Andy Dwyer
2 years ago


Reply to  Andy Dwyer
2 years ago

I think anyone there would have finished competion

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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