While in Singapore at the 2015 FINA Jr World Championships, FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu told Reuters that FINA is looking into implementing a minimum age for future FINA World Championship events.
A ten year-old swimmer from Bahrain named Alzain Tareq made headlines after competing at the FINA World Championships earlier this month. It is not common to swimmers that young at the World Championships. She is the youngest swimmer to ever compete at the World Championships, and will most likely remain the youngest if FINA institutes a minimum age.
Currently there is no minimum age for the World Championships, but there is a minimum age for the Junior World Championships. Swimmers have to be at least 14 before they can compete at the Junior World Championships.
When asked about Tareq competing at the World Championships, FINA President Julio Maglione made some interesting comments defending Tareq when people criticized letting a 10 year old swim at the World Championships by insisting it was better that she was swimming at the championships rather than taking marijuana or cocaine.
“370,000 people drown every year, especially children, and we can not ignore this problem. For her, this is a game and it’s better for children to have fun at this and not start at age 10 to take marijuana or cocaine, smoking or drinking alcohol”
Despite receiving support from president Maglione, it appears FINA will be moving in a new direction and limiting young children from competing at the World Championships. Many people felt Tareq’s participation was politically motivated. Bahrain and Saudia Arabia were rumored to be submitting a joint bid for a future FINA event because FINA can not award the event to a country unless there are equal opportunities for both male and female athletes.