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New swimming world championship causes big problems

Olympic champion Florian Wellbrock was happy about the unexpected chance of winning gold at the World Championships this summer, but his coach was not at all enthusiastic. “This confusion”, said national coach Bernd Berkhahn, “is not good for our sport”.

In a heave-off action, the world swimming association FINA pulled an “extraordinary” 2022 World Championship in Budapest (June 18 to July 3) out of a hat on Monday. But the enthusiasm is clearly limited.

The appointment chaos is now complete, and the densely packed major events are in danger of losing their importance. The specialist portal State of Swimming appropriately wrote of a “dilution day”.

Just a week ago, FINA postponed the World Championships planned for this May in Fukuoka, Japan, to 2023 (July 14 to 30) due to the corona pandemic. World title fights are scheduled again for January 2024 (Doha) and summer 2025 (Kazan), with the Olympic swimming competitions taking place in Paris in between. Five mega events within three years – why all this?

For the athletes, stressed FINA President Husain Al-Musallam. “Maximize the racing opportunities and earning potential for established and aspiring athletes alike.”

But it should be undisputed that it is also and above all about maximizing profits for his own association. But at what price?

Planning of the DSV thrown overboard

The short-term announcement would “confound pretty much every plan for the current season,” said the DSV in a statement. After the postponement of the Fukuoka World Championships, nomination competitions in the DSV were canceled and training camps were postponed. All of this now has to be rescheduled.

National championships in pool swimming and diving in Berlin and open water swimming in Münster were also planned for June. There are also international overlaps with the final tournament of the Champions League in water polo or the International Swimming League (ISL).

National coach Berkhahn also pointed out that a World Cup in June would be “even more difficult” to reconcile with the subsequent European Championships in Rome in August. The athletes are faced with a Herculean task in training control – or they do without an event.

“It would have been easier for us athletes and especially for the coaches if they had communicated from the beginning that a postponement was still being worked on this year,” criticized Wellbrock. The double world champion from 2019 was nevertheless happy “that the World Cup is taking place this year after all. And with Budapest it’s even taking place ‘nearby’.”

Hungary’s metropolis is practically the secret weapon of the world association when it is looking for an organizer at short notice. This time, too, FINA quickly and unbureaucratically came to an agreement with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. But that didn’t trigger much joy in the swimming scene.

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