With the 2019 World Championships taking place this summer in Gwangju, Korea in just a handful of months, SwimSwam spoke with Gwangju Organizing Committee Secretary General, Dr. Cho Youngteck, on how the preparations are coming along.
While several nations’ rosters are still being finalized through their remaining national competitions and qualifying meets, we can start getting a feel for how this extraordinary international competition is taking shape. Take a look below to find out more about the venue, medals and overall cultural vibe that the athletes, officials and spectators will experience this July.
How are preparations coming along? Is there anything not on track?
With less than three months to go before the opening ceremony, the Organising Committee has entered the final phase of its preparations for the Championships. Every detail is of utmost importance to ensure the successful delivery of the event for both athletes and visitors.
In March, the brand-new Athletes’ Village was successfully completed. It intends to accommodate over 4’000 athletes and team officials. The construction of the complementary facilities is on-going and will be finalized in May. Our priority is to ensure the impeccable logistics (i.e. visa, transportation, internet access) to welcome the athletes and visitors in the best way possible to make their experience unforgettable – our entire team is working hard on this. Everything is on track and on budget, the final step will be to simply let the Championships begin!
What is the most unique feature of the competition pool?
All the venues have been carefully thought through to ensure that all athletes feel at home in Gwangju and achieve their best performances. The team has been working hard on developing a smart and compact competition venue plan which will allow athletes to focus solely on their sport. Korea is a tech-savvy nation and of course, the venues for the FINA World Championships will be a combination of world-class aquatics facilities with state-of-the-art innovation and technologies.
Also, we are very proud of our high diving venue. Installed at the Chosun University Football Field, it has a stunning view on the Mudeungsan Mountain and will for sure please our broadcasters as they will have the possibility to shoot breath-taking scenes!
How will this edition of the World Championships be set apart from other years’ meets?
It is the first time in history that the World Championships are coming to South-Korea! Our country and culture are so different, and for that reason alone, this edition promises to be out of the ordinary. The city of Gwangju will turn into a great festival that combine sports and the unique Korean culture.
In addition, Korea is a global innovation leader in a broad range of fields – which means that athletes, fans and officials will have the chance to experience a unique blend of innovation, technology and sport in and out of the water!
Do you have a spectatorship goal in terms of numbers? Where are ticket sales at currently?
Gwangju 2019 team has been working hard to activate and engage with the Aquatics family and fans both at a national and international level. We are expecting over 370’000 visitors to come from all over the world through online and offline ticketing sales.
Our online ticketing platform is up and running since the beginning of this year, with Ticketlink being appointed as the official ticketing agent for the Championships. Offline ticketing sales started on April 1st and are available for purchase in the Gwangju City Hall, the Organising Committee offices and the Gwangju train station. During the Championships, box offices will be set up at each competition venue.
For the Masters Championships, all competitions are open to the public for free. We really look forward to welcoming the world to Gwangju and share this unique experience!
How will Korean culture be infused into the event? How will you be showcasing the nation to spectators near and far?
Most of the fans will be visiting Korea for the first time and it is a great opportunity for them to be out of the ordinary. We are working closely with the Ministry of Culture and the tourism office to provide the fans and visitors with a genuine Korean experience – K-pop concerts, traditional dances, and typical dishes will be an integral part of the festivities.
It also goes without saying that the city will be entirely dressed in the FINA World Championships’ colours. The spirit of Gwangju 2019 will be felt everywhere we go!
Tell me more about the medals please. Who designed them? What was the inspiration?
The medals are designed and manufactured by Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corporation.
The front of the medal takes its inspiration from our slogan, “Dive into Peace,” which captures Mount Mudeung and Yeongsan River, two of Gwangju’s most significant natural resources to illustrate athletes overcoming challenges for their future.
On the back of the medal are inscribed a word meaning ‘light’ and a person which symbolize the host city of Gwangju spreading its cherished values of democracy, human rights, and peace across the world. We hope the Championships will leave a sustainable and creative legacy sharing such values with the world beyond the boundaries of sports.
What tasks have Park Tae Hwan and An Seyheon been completing in their ambassador roles? Does it detract from the event locally since Park is not actually competing?
Hosting the World Championships in Korea is a great honor for us and we are thankful for the part that all of our ambassadors play in promoting this great event domestically and internationally. They are very much involved in all the events that are organised to celebrate our milestones, including the one year to go, the unveiling of our mascots, of our medals and of our uniforms. They are also taking part in all the activities aiming at engaging with fans such as giving swimming classes to the young generations or participating to fan signing events.