With the still-fresh announcement by the Mexican Swimming Federation that it has pulled out of hosting the 2017 FINA World Aquatic Championships, an article this week in the Chicago Tribune reveals that the possibility of the United States being named as the new host of the multi-sport event is extraordinarily slim.
USA Swimming’s Executive Director, Chuck Wielgus, expressed in the piece that, “We would love to host a long course world championships in the United States, but the economic requirements make it impossible for us to seriously consider.”
The estimated $80 million price tag tied to managing the entire competition, which includes swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water, is certainly the event’s biggest detraction. The possibility of breaking even on such an encompassing event is estimated to be nil, providing little incentive to countries with sluggish economies.
Economics is precisely on what Mexico based its withdrawal, citing the high cost of hosting the event specifically within the context of its weakened position in the world market due to falling oil prices. The country settled on paying the $5 million withdrawal penalty to FINA rather than furthering its investment two years out from the competition.
With a four-to-six year search now being reduced to just a two-year undertaking, FINA must now quickly search for a replacement venue for the world’s biggest non-Olympic aquatics event. The paper does point to Qatar, the site of the 2014 FINA Short Course World Championships, as a possible replacement host country, but nothing definitive has been released.
The United States has never hosted the long course version of this meet, which is the bigger and more visible of the two swimming world championship events hosted by FINA.