FINA, the world governing body for 6 aquatic disciplines, has announced the move of the 2020 World Short Course Championships from December 2020 to December 2021. This comes among the global coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted world sporting calendars.
The new dates for the biannual event are December 13-18, 2021, with the meet still being scheduled for Abu Dhabi, UAE. The FINA World Aquatics Convention will precede the event from December 10th-12th.
While there was lots of discussion about moving the 2021 World Aquatics Championships, the larger of the two events, from 2021 to 2022 to avoid an Olympic conflict, there hadn’t been as much discussion about the World Short Course Championships. Swimming Canada, for example, had previously announced that their plan for return to major swimming competition was to send a larger team than normal to the World Short Course Championships in December.
“We have worked in close co-operation during the last weeks with the UAE authorities on this matter and we believe this is the most suitable solution for all those taking part in this competition. The Abu Dhabi rendezvous in December 2021 will be a great achievement and will once more be a strong inspiration for the development of Swimming and Aquatics in the region”, considered FINA President Dr Julio C. Maglione.
2021 will be the 2nd time that the World Short Course Championships are to be held in the UAE after Dubai hosted the 2010 event.
The World Short Course Championships is the smaller of the two FINA World Championships events. The meet hosts swimming only, in a short course, 25-meter long pool. This is as compared to the World Aquatics Championships, which includes competition in swimming, open water swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, and high diving, and holds swimming in a long course 50 meter pool: the same size as the Olympics.
Still, in 2018 FINA awarded $2.070 million in prize money across 40 races at the World Short Course Championships. That nearly doubled the prize money from 2016 as FINA saw new competition arising in the winter season from the International Swimming League.
This shift to 2021 will again bring a direct conflict between the World Championships and the ISL. While the ISL has said that it will hold a compact season this year among the global coronavirus pandemic, they are again planning to return to their originally-planned, post-Olympic, 6-month season after Tokyo, which wouldn’t leave much room for these World Championships with nearly 30 meets on an expanded schedule.
UAE has reported just over 26,000 confirmed infections of coronavirus with 233 COVID-19-caused deaths among a population of 9.6 million – a rate in line with many countries of similar size.
This shift pushes the World Short Course Championships likely into consecutive years, with Russia having been awarded hosting duties in 2022. Those hosting duties, however, are still up in the air as one piece of Russia’s ban over its anti-doping control practices has included stripping it of hosting duties of international sporting events.
FINA also announced that its General Congress, where the new FINA Bureau is to be elected, will take place on June 5, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. New bureau members will begin their term immediately after the Tokyo Olympic Games, which run from July 23-August 8, 2021.
This will mark the end of the tenure of the 84-year old Urguayan Maglione as president after 3 terms that began in 2009.