The Requirements To Host The FINA World Aquatics Championships

After Greensboro withdrew their bid to host either the 2025 or 2027 World Championships, it raised the question: what are the requirements of the host city for such a large-scale event?

Looking at the last six hosts, they have used anywhere between two to five different pools for competition use, between swimming, diving, water polo, and artistic (formerly synchronized) swimming, along with additional outdoor venues for open water swimming and high diving.

The main pool used for the swimming competition has seated anywhere between 12,500 and 18,000 people. Take a look at some of the data below:

Year Host City Number of Pools Used Swimming Pool Swimming Capacity Diving Capacity Water Polo Capacity Artistic Capacity
2017 Budapest 4 Permanent 12,500 12,500* 8,000 6,000
2015 Kazan 5 Temporary 15,000 4,200 3,500 15,000*
2013 Barcelona 4 Temporary 17,960 6,500 3,000 17,960*
2011 Shanghai 2 Temporary 18,000 5,000 18,000* 18,000*
2009 Rome 3 Permanent 12,000 12,000*
2007 Melbourne 3 Temporary 14,820 1,800 3,000 14,820*

It is fairly common for the main pool to be temporary, usually placed in a stadium that’s normally used for other sports. Even in the cases where the pool used for the swimming competition is permanent, temporary locations are usually necessary to fulfil the requirements of all the different sports.

For the upcoming championships in Gwangju this summer, the swimming and diving competitions will take place at the Main Aquatics Centre (built for the 2015 World University Games), and water polo and artistic swimming will have their own temporary outdoor venues nearby.

What would it take for an American city to host the championships? First, they’ll need the main pool to have a seating capacity somewhere in the 12,000 range (at minimum).

Indianapolis, which hosted the 2017 World Junior Championships (Indiana University Natatorium), seats 4,700, which makes it the largest permanent swimming facility in the country but still falls well short of what a Worlds would require. The Greensboro Aquatic Center, for example, only seats 2,500.

The most likely scenario would be a temporary pool in an arena, similar to what they do every four years at the Olympic Trials, but the cost of that becomes a major factor. They would also need at least one, probably two or three, additional venues.

With Greensboro dropping out it will now be at least ten years before the World Championships take place on American soil. After Gwangju this summer they will return to Fukuoka, Japan in 2021 (where they were in 2001), and then move to Doha, Qatar in 2023 (host of the 2014 SC Worlds).

Budapest and Kazan are two of the cities who remain in the running for 2025 or 2027, along with Belgrade, Kiev, and a city to be confirmed in China.

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4 years ago

It is just a matter of priorities. The US is a rich nation, and spends 2-3 billion USD A DAY on defence….that is your choice. If you spent say 15 Minutes of defence spending on swimming, you could have a brand new stadium and the WC whenever you want.

4 years ago

Countries with autocratic governments usually win, primarily because citizens don’t have a choice on budgetary priorities – it more about the ego of the rulers. Now if an American City proposed to build a “Trump Aquatic Center” that included a museum dedicated to Trump’s accomplishments, he’d surely find a national emergency justified diversion of money to get it built.

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
4 years ago

The Trump Pro Series would be huuuge and have the highest crowds in swimming history! Sorry, had to go there.

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
4 years ago

But alas Trump is not a dictator and this will never happen. Try again if your attempting to bash Trump or the US

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
4 years ago

Australia has hosted 3 times. So autocratic. Some more of these autocratic countries: Japan, South Korea, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Canada

This seems to be more about the American perspective that the only things worth having are those you can make money from, everything else being worthless.

4 years ago

You forgot the most important piece (to FINA) $$$$$$$$

As of 6-8 years ago it was about a $100M endeavour to host and I’m sure it’s only gone up. Without a government putting up the $$ that’s a tough ask for a US organizing committee, and why we see frequent trips to the Middle East, Russia, China, etc

4 years ago

Construction of 1 permanent pool to host such an event would never happen in the USA. It would be a big white elephant, and there would never be enough meets to make it pay for itself. Even IUPUI doesn’t fill all the seats for all their meets, and they probably have to events on 30-40 weekends per year.

Indianapolis would be only one of the few places that could host a FINA WC. Temporary pool(s) in the Lucas Oil Dome, diving and artistic at IUPUI, water polo at IUPUI and Carmel, and OWS and high diving at Eagle Creek Reservoir. Team bases at nearby pools and colleges (IU, PU, Crawfordsville , Vigo County, etc).

Atlanta: temporary pools at… Read more »

He Said What?
4 years ago

If I remember correctly, the last time the USA had actually thrown its hat into the ring and WON the rights for the World Championships was for the 1982 edition. And then everything went south, the American host city, Santa Clara, removed itself and FINA had to scramble for a host nation. That nation was Ecuador,….Guayaquil, Ecuador. I had some friends who competed there and was told that the construction wasn’t finished even when the competition began. So how on Earth can Ecuador host the Worlds and the USA can’t or won’t? It makes no sense.

Andrei Vorontsov
Reply to  He Said What?
4 years ago

That was a time of SWIMMING championships, now AQUATIC champs. 5 sports together . A little difference!

Human Ambition
Reply to  Andrei Vorontsov
4 years ago

Good point Andrei. And it was also 1982.

4 years ago

It’s a big world. Why this 2018-2021 Japan/Korea monopoly for 4 of the biggest swimming meets in those 3 years? Not the best planning…

Coach ID
Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
4 years ago

But who decides it? A planning committee or a group of delegates?? Or were there no better options??

Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
3 years ago

I agree that 2021 fukuoka is weird. But for the athletes it totally makes sense. The olympics are obviously still the main event, so having a bunch of swim meets in the same or similar time zone is really convenient for the athletes not from the region (europe and the americas), that way the national teams can get used to pre competition training camps at one location (I assume in the case of gwangju and Tokyo most national teams will have the same location for their training camps). I guess the fukuoka World champs is also sorta convenient then, but it would have made more sense for them to be in 2017, even though IMO that would have been overkill… Read more »

4 years ago

I find it a little funny that all these other countries have managed to scrape together the funding to host the World Championships, some even more than once, but the US of all places hasn’t even been able to manage it even once.

Aussie crawl
Reply to  Troy
4 years ago

We in The great south Land don’t have Mr Trump.

Reply to  Aussie crawl
4 years ago

And Trump also knows what a dog this is for the economy. He would never support it.

Reply to  Troy
4 years ago

That’s the case with a lot of things in the US

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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