On the advent of the 2018 European Aquatics Championships, which features swimming in a long course pool, LEN, the governing body for aquatic sports in Europe, has awarded hosting duties to the 2021 standalone Short Course European Swimming Championships to Lisbon, Portugal. The LEN Bureau voted unanimously in favor of the Portuguese capital, which will be hosting for a 2nd time after 1999.
The event will be held in the Altice Arena, which was built in the 1990s with a seating capacity of 20,000. Its original purpose was to host Expo ’98, an official World’s Fair event, in 1998. At the time, the country’s biggest halls could hold only about 4,000 people, which limited the ability to host both major concerts and sporting events.
The arena previously hosted the 1999 FIBA U19 World Championship in basketball, the 2001 IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships, the 2002 World Fencing Championships, the 2000 ATP Tennis Finals, and the 2014-2015 UEFA Futsal Cup final-four (which filled the arena about halfway).
The 1999 edition of the championships were held in the Complexo Desportivo do Jamor, which is far too small to hold modern European Championship events.
The arena is the 4th-largest in Europe, and is the largest to host a swimming event in recent memory*. The last edition of the European Short Course Championships, in 2017, was held at the new Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark, which holds 12,500 spectators. Finals sessions for that meet drew between 5,000 and 6,500 spectators according to LEN, though December in Lisbon is usually about 20 degrees warmer than December in Copenhagen.
*Editor’s Note: we know it’s not the largest ever, because swimming events at the 1908 London Olympics were held in a pool inside of the track oval, which had a capacity of 68,000 spectators.
“We are very happy and proud that big-time swimming returns to Portugal” LEN President Paolo Barelli said. “Lisbon is a great city and the proposed venue guarantee that we shall witness another outstanding short-course event in December 2021. As for Kiev, in 2017 the Ukrainian hosts delivered a fantastic event, we are very much looking forward to be part of the second edition there.”
Portugal has won 4 medals in total at the European Short Course Swimming Championships: 1 silver and 3 bronzes. That ranks them 33rd on the all-time medals table.
Glasgow, hosts for most of this week’s European Aquatics Championships, will also host the 2019 Short Course Swimming Championships. Unlike the 2017 and 2021 championships that sandwich it, Glasgow will host in a full-time aquatic center, the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, which has permanent seating for 2,000 fans but can be e xpanded to 5,000 seats for major events. The venue also hosted the swimming portion of the 2014 Commonwealth Games after a major renovation.
Other Votes Held at the meeting:
- The standalone 2019 European Diving Championships will return to Kiev, Ukraine, where they were also held in 2017 in the Liko Sports Centre.