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Euros: Debrecen & Eindhoven Not Antwerp

Feb 16, 2012  - Craig Lord

File updated with official confirmation of the switch from Antwerp to Debrecen and Eindhoven

In what is a worrying trend in swimming, Antwerp in Belgium is the latest bid-winner of a major championship to withdraw from hosting the event. Debrecen in Hungary and Eindhoven in The Netherlands have stepped in, while rumours that London is set to step in are incorrect. 

The Belgian city was to have hosted the European Championships (long-course) in May this year but the deal with the European Swim league (LEN) is off, the federation confirmed in a statement announcing Debrecen and Eindhoven's rescue missions.

The diving championships, usually held with swimming, will be staged in Eindhoven from May 14, the week before swimming was due to have started in Antwerp. Debrecen, the Hungarian city that hosted the European short-course championships in 2007, will now host the swimming May 21-27, Eindhoven the synchronised swimming alongside diving, with precise dates to be confirmed. 

Last week, Flemish newspapers reported that Antwerp was facing a euros 300,000 shortfall in their budget and suggested Eindhoven as the likely replacement host (mentioned at the foot of this SwimNews report). The confirmation that Antwerp cannot meet its budget comes in a week that saw Rome withdraw its plans to bid for the 2020 Olympic Games at a time when the Euro Zone economic crisis is biting hard and austerity measures are the order of the day across the continent.

In a statement, LEN confirmed: "LEN informs that the 2012 European Swimming Championships that were to take place in Antwerp (BEL) have been reallocated to the City of Debrecen (HUN) and will be held on the same dates as previously planned, from May 21st to 27th.

The event will take place at the Debrecen Swimming Pool Complex that hosted the European Short Course Swimming Championships in 2007.

As previously announced, the corresponding Diving Championships will be held in Eindhoven (NED) from May 15th to 20th.

The Synchronised Swimming discipline, originally intended to take place in Antwerp, has also been reallocated, with its continental titles now to be contested in Eindhoven. LEN appreciates the Dutch city’s availability on such short notice and the constant contribution of the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation. The exact dates of this competition have yet to be reconfirmed.

LEN also wishes to express gratitude to the Hungarian Government and Sports Ministry, the City of Debrecen, as well as the Hungarian Swimming Association for the outstanding support that they again demonstrate toward European Aquatics, and on this particular occasion in offering their experience and resources to once more welcome the LEN Swimming Family to Hungary."

International agency reports that London is to take on the event are incorrect, a spokesman for British Swimming told SwimNews. British Swimming has talked to LEN on an informal basis about hosting future events but the Olympic venue would be out of bounds to all before the Games and the budget required to host a European l/c event simply not available.

In a statement, British Swimming confirmed: "British Swimming can confirm that no discussions have taken place with LEN with regard to the staging of the 2012 European Championships following Antwerp’s recent withdrawal as host city. It is understood that LEN has held discussions with alternative cities with a view to hosting the event originally scheduled for May this year. However, British Swimming is planning to discuss with LEN the possibility of hosting future European Championships post-2012."

The downside of hosting Europe's long-course event is clear: it either coincides with Olympic year or Commonwealth Games year. In 2006 and 2010, British Swimming made the Commonwealth Games its priority event for home nations after having been forced to miss the 2002 event in Berlin when the German hosts switched their dates over a broadcast clash with athletics even though they knew that would mean one of LEN's founder members would not be able to send a team, the Commonwealth dates having long been established on the sporting calendar that year.

In recent years, FINA had to find new bidders for the 2013 World Championships (l/c) after Dubai withdrew. Barcelona will now stage the meet, while Catania, in Sicily, Italy withdrew from hosting the 2012 world short-course championships. Both winning bidders pulled out on financial grounds, no longer able to cover the costs of organising the meet.

In Europe, Budapest, host of the long-course showcase in 2006, stepped in again in 2010 after no other bidders came forward. Now, Hungary and the Netherlands will once more come to the rescue of Europe in aquatic sports.