While most of the United States slept, the FINA bureau in China was wide awake and announced the hosts for the 2015 and 2017 World Championships: Kazan, Russia and Guadalajara, Mexico. These will officially be the 16th and 17th versions of the World Championships, respectively.
Kazan, host of the 2015 Championship, is a city of 1.1 million inhabitants that lies along Russia’s Volga River. In 2009, it was fittingly named the “Sports Capital of Russia,” and in 2013 will have a test run at the Summer Universiade (or World University Games, as they’re known in the US).
Based on present-day populations, this makes Kazan the smallest city to ever host a FINA World Championship.
A key factor in the decision, according to Russian Swimming Federation representative Vladimir Silnikov, is the fact that everyone in the city likes sports. The Russian delegation was figure-headed by former sprint star Alexander Popov, who himself is a 6-time World Champion.
The Aquatics venue for the 2015 Championship will likely be built around the in-progress “Aquatics Palace” that is being built for the Universiade. That site will be able to hold 4,200 people, which will make it a good starting point as one of the auxillary aquatics venues.
Russia will have lots of practice in hosting major sporting events over the next decade. This continues a winning streak for the country that will see the 2013 Universiade, 2014 Winter Olympics, 2018 World Cup of soccer, and now the 2015 FINA Aquatics World Championships.
Guadalajara, Mexico was chosen to host the 2017 event. FINA had said they would only announce the 2017 host this year if they thought they had two outstanding candidates, which apparently they decided they did. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second most populous municipality at 1.5 million people, but has a booming metropolitan area of over 4 million.
Guadalajara too will have a test run before the World Championships, as they will host this summer’s Pan American Games that will have over 6,000 athletes competing across 36 sports. The pool for that event will be the Scotiabank Aquatics Center, which has been dubbed as “the Pool of the Pan.” It will have room for 3,593 spectators, but will house two 50-meter pools and a diving well.
Guadalajara will represent the first time that the World Championships have taken place in the Western Hemisphere since 2005 in Montreal, and the 3rd-time ever (and first since 1982) that they will be hosted in Latin America. This was a bit of a “back to their roots” decision by FINA, as two out of the first four championships were also held in that region.
The other finalist, Hong Kong, did not receive a bid. The belief is that this was largely because of a lack of financial guarantees from the city’s government. The 2013 World Championships will be hosted in Barcelona, Spain.