According to Yahoo’s European arm, FINA has released the names of interested cities for the 2015 and 2017 World Championships. The United States, the world’s most successful swimming nation with it’s best swimming infrastructure, will again miss out on hosting the sport’s biggest inter-Olympic event. 2017 will mark the 17th long course World Championship since the event began in 1973: not one of which has been hosted by the USA. The US did host the much smaller-scale short course championships in 2004.
FINA is expected to announce the winner of the 2015 bid this summer in Shanghai. The big theme on the list is that by the time the 2015 and 2017 World Championships roll around, each of the bidders will have experienced a similarly large-scale event, and won’t have to build facilities specifically for this meet (meaning that the Championships become more financially viable for each host).
The host cities that are interested in bidding for the Championships are:
Guangzhou, China– (2015/2017) Guangzhao is a huge metropolis of 10 million people located in Southeastern China, about a day’s drive south of 2011 host Shanghai. On it’s own merits, Guangzhao is a great candidate, as they hosted the wildly successful (and much larger scale) Asian Games in 2010 that were hailed as one of the most successful ever. The trick is whether or not FINA will have the cojones to return the event to China so shortly after it last hosted (giving Guangzhao a better chance at 2017 than 2015). Odds of hosting: 3 out of 10 for 2015, 7 out of 10 for 2017.
Guadalajara, Mexico- (2015/2017) Guadalajara, Mexico lies in the southwest of the country and is heavy reliant on its tourism industry. This means that it likely has the means to host a large event and the large influx of foreigners that comes with it. It has largely escaped the drug-violence that has ravaged the rest of the country, though in recent weeks the cartels seem to be increasingly encroaching on the area, which could give FINA trepidations (the US State Department, for example, has barred its employees from traveling after dark in Guadalajara. But they do have a brand new 4,500 seat facility built for their hosting of the 2011 Pan Am Games in October. The meet hasn’t been hosted in Latin America since 1982, the event’s fourth incarnation, and with Julio Maglione (of Uruguay) currently leading FINA, there could be some pressure to change that. Odds of hosting: 5 out of 10 for 2015, 4 out of 10 for 2017.
Hong Kong- (2015/2017) Hong Kong is one of the wealthiest cities in the world, so the cost of hosting the event isn’t much of a concern for them. Unlike many of the other cities on the list, Hong Kong (as of yet) won’t have a major sporting event on its resume by 2015, though this is likely not the only event that they’ll be bidding on. This might also allow FINA to snake another event into the high-growth Asian continent without raising as many eyebrows (Hong Kong is part of China, but administratively independent). The Hong Kong bid is heavily tied to that of Guangzhao-FINA is unlikely to host both the 2015 and 2017 events in the same country, but it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll host one or the other in Asia. Odds of hosting: 6 out of 10 for 2015, 9 out of 10 for 2017.
Montreal, Canada- (2017 only) The World Aquatics Championships haven’t been hosted in the Western Hemisphere since 2005, when they were hosted in Montreal. After 4-straight stops in the East, the world might be hankering to get back to the Americas. There shouldn’t be any problems with facilities and infrastructure in Montreal, instead they will have to battle with the economic demons of their past. The 1976 Olympics were the biggest financial disaster in the history of sport, one that the city is likely still paying off, and the 2005 World Championships were a money-loser as well. The Montreal organizers will have to convince FINA that they can at least break even on this meet to warrant serious consideration. Odds of hosting: 3 out of 10 for 2017.
Kazan, Russia- (2015/2017) Many people have probably never heard of Kazan, and with just over a million in population, it’s the smallest bidder on the list. Kazan was, however, named the “sports capital of Russia” in 2009. Kazan used that reputation to earn the bid for the 2013 World University Games, for which they built a brand-new, 4,500 seat arena similar to Guadalajara’s. While I personally think that Kazan is the best candidate to host, it might be done in by the politics of the matter: China will likely earn one of the bids, and one of the two Western Hemisphere cities will likely host the other event. Odds of hosting: 1 out of 10 for 2015, 3 out of 10 for 2017.
If I were a gambling man, I’d put my money on the combination of either Guadalajara 2015/Hong Kong 2017 or Hong Kong 2015/Montreal 2017. But, as we’ve pointed out, to gamble on the thoughts of those who decide these hosting cities is fool’s play.