GWANGJU ― A team of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) officially began its on-site evaluation here in Gwangju on Monday as it watched a presentation of the city’s proposals to host the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships.
The five-member delegation, led by Cornel Marculescu, executive director of the FINA Bureau, arrived in the city Monday to evaluate Gwangju’s bid for the 18th edition of the World Championships.
They were warmly greeted by Gwangju Mayor Kang Un-tae, senior officials and about 300 local citizens at Gwangju Airport. “Preparations to greet us are outstanding and fantastic,” Marculescu said.
|Cornel Marculescu (left, front row), executive director of the FINA Bureau and chief of its on-site evaluation team, and Gwangju Mayor Kang Un-tae (center) watch a local aquatic competiton at Yeomju Swimming Center in Gwangju on Monday. (Yonhap News)|
The panel moved to a conference room of the 2015 Summer Universiade Organizing Committee, where it held a closed door session starting at 2:30 p.m. Gwangju is the host city for the 2015 Universiade.
During the presentation, they addressed technical details contained in practices and procedures, the host city agreement and bidding book submitted by the city.
Gwangju has emphasized the one-site venue concept under which most events will be organized in a single venue for operational efficiency. The focal point of the venue will be a new swimming pool that celebrated its groundbreaking on April 24 on the Nambu University campus.
City officials have also promised to try to deliver a World Championships series which will open a new era of aquatics, enhance the sportive status of FINA, and set the benchmark for future hi-tech championships.
After the presentation, the visitors moved to Yeomju Indoor Swimming Pool in the city to watch the Dong-A Swimming Championships and get a feel of how well-organized swimming races are held in superb facilities.
Launched in 1929, the 85th edition of the authoritative competition is under way in Gwangju. It was originally scheduled to be hosted by Ulsan, a southeastern port city, but Gwangju Mayor Kang Un-tae and Korea Swimming Federation president Lee Ki-heung persuaded Ulsan Mayor Bak Maeng-woo to concede the event to Gwangju. The move was intended to help the city foster an aquatic festivity in time for the FINA on-site evaluation as well as showcase its hosting capability and excellent swimming facilities.
Korean star swimmers including the late Cho Oh-ryun, Choi Yun-hee and Park Tae-hwan all received attention through the Dong-A championships. Korea has seen a meteoric rise in popular interest in swimming, most recently concentrated on Park, who won the 400-meter gold and 200-meter bronze medals in the men’s freestyle event at the 2007 FINA World Championships and 400-meter gold in the 2011 edition.
Gwangju Mayor Kang hosted an official reception dinner for the FINA delegates.
On Tuesday, the FINA team will visit the aquatic venue at Nambu University. They are scheduled to move to Naju Lake where open-water competitions of the 2019 FINA World Championships will take place if Gwangju is awarded the event.
Gwangju, a southwestern metropolitan city which seeks to become one of the world’s iconic sports venues, submitted a formal bid on April 8 to host the FINA World Championships in 2019. As one of its vantage points, the city has underlined its hosting experience and saving of facility construction costs from staging the 2015 Summer Universiade.
FINA will choose the host city for the 2019 World Championships through a majority vote by its 22 bureau members in Barcelona, Spain, July 19.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)