The FINA Sports Medicine Committee received a private tour of the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai that will play host to the 2010 World Short Course Championships in Dubai next month. Dr. Cees van den Hoogenband, the head of said committee, declared that he had “never seen a venue as good as this for a world short course championships.”
Normally, this would be a non-issue. Under the current climate of the swimming community, however, there has been much concern over the UAE’s ability to provide safe facilities for the meet. The skepticism is a result of what many see as a failure to do so in the recent Open Water meet hosted by the UAE that resulted in the death of American swimmer Fran Crippen.
During the visit, the FINA officials were able to tour and inspect the pool deck, the medical and doping control rooms, as well as the routes that athletes will take when walking around the facility.
Dr van den Hoogenband gave the facilities his stamp of approval by saying “I am really impressed by the facilities, they are really great. I am very satisfied with the rooms allocated for medical requirements. There is enough space and it is ideal.”
Other reviews of the complex have been similarly very positive. UAE Olympian Obaid Al Jasmin gave the facility a glowing review on sport360.com, including comments like “As soon as I entered the venue, I said to myself ‘Am I in the UAE or not?'” after swimming in a test-event. This is positive to hear after test events prior to the last major swimming event, the Commonwealth Games in Dehli, resulted in injuries caused by incomplete facilities.
While pool swimming is typically significantly less dangerous than the open water variety, given the relative ease of controlling conditions and providing safety, it is still encouraging to hear that FINA is this time sending a full medical staff to inspect conditions prior to the meet. It’s a shame they didn’t do the same prior to the open water meet, but moving forward this is an important, if very small, move in the right direction for athletes’ safety.