February 10, 2005

FINA Gets Their Way. Man Dies.

So I guess it was just an extreme pressure tactic, after all.

Today FINA announced that the 2005 FINA World Championships will be held in ... Montréal. This after cancelling the same event — scheduled for July — in January, and convincing three other cities to present their short-notice bids.

Of course, Canada's athletes are thrilled that the championships are back on, and they should be. In fact, this decision is probably the best one for the competition, as honourary co-chairman Dick Pound has pointed out:

I've always thought that the best thing for FINA and their world championships would be to take advantage of the two years of preparation that Montreal's already put into this rather than take their chances on what a totally new city, with only five months to prepare, might be able to cobble together.

FINA has publicly agreed, stating that it would be a logistical headache to move the championships with such little notice.

In addition to getting the right venue, FINA also has finally secured the financial assurances they feel they need. Apparently, those assurances are mostly being borne by Montréal's long-suffering taxpayers, but we'll wait and see.

So, was it all a bluff? Here's a segment from the CP Online story on the re-award to Montréal. (Cornel Marculescu, quoted here, is executive director of FINA.)

... when [FINA] met with the [Montréal organizing] committee in January ... [Marculescu] felt the championships were not taken seriously by the committee or the various levels of government. When they pulled the event from Montréal, he said it "gave us a chance to show that this is an important event and that lots of cities want to have it."

Everybody at FINA must be feeling absolutely fabulous, since this worked out just the way they wanted it to; they don't have to move their championships, they extorted their financial guarantees, and they got to feel more important, all at the same time. Meanwhile, a man is dead, after organizing committee chairman Yvon Desrochers killed himself in his car last week. Of course, as Marculescu was quick to point out, "we don't know if it was connected to the championships," even if Desrochers was facing a barrage of public criticism over the failure of the organization he led since 2002. I wonder if FINA feels better now that they're being "taken seriously?"

No comments: