February 21, 2015

Swimming's governing body FINA hopes to have a new host chosen for the 2017 world championships ''in two to three weeks'' after the Mexican city of Guadalajara withdrew unexpectedly.

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told The Associated Press on Saturday that ''various'' cities - without naming them - have offered to organize the competition.

''I'm looking around and probably in two to three weeks we will have a new organizer,'' Marculescu said.

One possible host is Budapest, Hungary, which is slated to host the 2021 worlds and 2017 junior worlds.

Tamas Gyarfas, president of the Hungarian Swimming Federation, suggested it might be possible to flip-flop the two competitions.

Hungary took the place of Antwerp when it pulled out of hosting the 2012 European Championships and also stepped forward in 2014, when Israel was unable to organize the junior open water worlds.

Once proposals are formalized, the 24-person FINA Bureau - an executive committee - will vote on the host, Marculescu said.

''There will be no bidding process because there's not enough time. We need to solve it directly ourselves,'' Marculescu said.

In a statement Wednesday, the state-run Mexican Sports Institute said it faced a fine of $5 million from FINA for pulling out.

Mexico's Sports Institute said it would need to invest $100 million to hold the championships and that it had spent $9.5 million.

The Mexican government announced several weeks ago it would need to cut $8.4 billion from its budget, which is heavily reliant on oil exports.

''I don't think Guadalajara ever wanted the championships,'' Marculescu said. ''I don't think it's a financial issue. Oil prices are dropping all over the world. We discovered in December and January that Guadalajara was not even creating an organizing committee - even though they signed everything.

''For sure there were other areas in Mexico that would have been happy to host the championships,'' he added. ''But now it's finished.''

Falling oil prices are also affecting Russia's economy but Marculescu said preparations are running smooth for this year's worlds in Kazan, which are scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9.

''Kazan is super OK - no problem,'' Marculescu said. ''I was there last week to look at everything with the local authorities and they have completed a very complex task of constructing the swimming pool inside a football stadium.''

The aquatics worlds include competition in swimming, diving, water polo, open water swimming, synchronized swimming and high diving.


Associated Press writer Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.


Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf

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