European Aquatics (formerly LEN) has announced that they will move the planned January 2024 European Aquatics Championships out of Netanya, Israel amid ongoing fighting between Israel and Palestine.
“Both institutions (European Aquatics and Israeli Water Polo Association) have agreed that it will be impossible to host the European Water Polo Championships in Netanya, Israel, as planned in January 2024,” European Aquatics said in a statement. “Different options are currently being investigated regarding the proper qualification procedure for the next World Aquatics Water Polo Championships in Doha, and further information on the topic will be communicated as soon as possible.”
“European Aquatics would like to take this opportunity once again to strongly condemn those responsible for the terrorist atrocities against Israeli citizens and to express our support and sympathy with them at this difficult time.”
2024 was due to be the first time that Israel had hosted the biannual continental championship. The 2026 edition is scheduled for Belgrade, Serbia.
This is not the first event that has been moved from Israel since the October 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel. World Aquatics moved a crucial December open water race from Israel to Portugal last month shortly after fighting began.
European Aquatics has also said that the “political situation in Europe” has delayed planning of the 2024 European Aquatics Championships, though they did not specify if that was related to plans in Israel, Ukraine, both, or somewhere else.
Netanya is in the Northern Central District of Israel, about 20 miles (31 kilometers) north of Tel Aviv. While the city hasn’t seen any missile attacks yet, it has been home to civil unrest, including an incident last week where Israeli student protestors trapped Palestinian-Israeli students at Netanya Academic College inside their dorm rooms chanting “Death to Arabs!” and “Go back to Gaza.”
Still, with the country at war and many reservists being called up to active duty, staging an international sporting event under the circumstances would be a massive logistical and political challenge.