x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Fina fine with Dubai pull out

Swimming's world governing body defends the decision for Dubai to withdraw from hosting the World Masters Championship in 2013.

An initiative of Dubai Sports Council is to teach 10,000 children to swim before December.
An initiative of Dubai Sports Council is to teach 10,000 children to swim before December.

Fina, swimming's world governing body, has defended the decision for Dubai to withdraw from hosting the World Masters Championship in 2013. Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of Fina, said the sport needs to fully establish itself in the region before organising the World Masters Championship, which includes swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and open water competitions.

There was confusion last October when it had been announced Dubai would not host the event, with Fina announcing it as being a "mutual decision", while Dubai officials had stayed tight-lipped on the subject. "I think we need to go step by step," Marculescu said yesterday, at the launch of the official mascot for December's World Short Course Swimming Championship in Dubai. "I think it was the right thing to do because we need to be sure about what happens in December, how the development is and how the region is moving. Once we have all this in place, we can go to the next step. There is no problem whatsoever."

Dubai will be hosting the World Short Course Swimming Championship from December 15-19 at a new 10,000-seater aquatic centre being constructed in Dubai Sports Complex, Dubailand, at a cost of more than Dh1 billion. When completed, the Dubai Aquatic Centre will be the largest indoor facility of its kind in the world, and had been geared towards hosting the 2013 championships as well. Pipat Paniangvait, the honorary treasurer of Fina, said: "We want to have many more events in this part of the world. We are really hoping Dubai can host the World Cup some day.

"We will discuss it after the championship in December. "For the 2013 World Championship, we have opened the bids again. Maybe Abu Dhabi or another city can host it." Both Fina officials visited the Dubai Aquatic Centre yesterday morning and were impressed with the pace of progress at the venue. Marculescu is hoping the facilities will give a boost to the sport in the country and region. "This morning we had the pleasure of visiting the venue," he said. "I was there two months ago and let me tell you that the progress in work is unbelievable. The efforts done by the people in Dubai in constructing the biggest aquatic centre in the world with an investment of US$300m (Dh1.1m) is something to be proud of.

"You have this facility here and you need to give life to this facility. To do that, there should be a grassroots level programme. We are working closely with the UAE Swimming Federation to see how we can continue. This championship is not the end of the road, it is just the beginning of the road. "The Middle East is a very important part of the world. It is a fast developing area and I think we need to open the grassroots."

The mascot for the World Short Course Swimming Championship is a turtle named "Ehmisa" and it will be taken to schools and swimming clubs around the country to promote the sport. It will also be the face of Dubai Sports Council's initiative to teach swimming to 10,000 children before the start of the championship. More than 1,000 swimmers are expected to compete at the five-day championship in December, with the United States expected to field a contingent of more than 75.

"We want to assure the organisers that we will continue collaborating in the best possible way to achieve the best championship ever," Marculescu said. "From 202 Fina members, we already have 135 confirming their participation." arizvi@thenational.ae