FINA World Masters Championships kicks off in Gwangju

GWANGJU, The 18th FINA World Masters Championships, a biennial global festival of aquatic sports enthusiasts, kicked off in Gwangju on Monday, after the southwestern city successfully hosted the 18th FINA World Championships for elite aquatics sports athletes from July 1228.

About 6,000 aquatic sports enthusiasts older than 25 years will compete in 59 events across five disciplines competitive swimming, diving, water polo, open water swimming and artistic swimming in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, and nearby Yeosu until Aug. 18. From South Korea, about 1,000 aquatic sports amateurs belonging to 110 clubs will take part.

The first masters competition sponsored by FINA, the acronym for the French name of the International Swimming Federation, took place in Tokyo, Japan, in 1986. Starting in 2015, the masters competition has been held jointly with the FINA World Championships. All aquatic sports amateurs who are older than 25 years (30 years for water polo) can participate in the masters event through individual countries' aquatic sports associations affiliated with FINA. All participants in the masters championships pay for their own travel and accommodation expenses, in addition to an entry fee.

The masters event will be held at the same venues of the justended FINA World Championships in Gwangju and Yeosu, except for a high diving facility at Chosun University. Admission to all masters competitions is free of charge.

Competitive swimming and diving will take place at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center from Aug. 1218, while Yeomju Gymnasium will host artistic swimming from Aug. 511. Water polo will also be held at the Nambu University center, with open water swimming set to take place in Yeosu Expo Ocean Park from Aug. 911.

According to the organizing committee of the FINA masters event, about 1,300 volunteers, 5,000 citizen supporters and around 300 officials will offer various services to athletes, including interpretation, venue guidance, maintenance of order, welcome and sendoff, and cheering.

Security screening systems will not be in operation at all venues, as admission is free for all spectators and tourists. Instead, volunteers and police officers will help maintain order at the venues, with surveillance cameras in operation 24 hours a day.

The committee expects about 2,000 masters participants to enter the athletes' village, which was used by elite athletes during the FINA World Championships. Many masters participants traveling with families and friends are expected to stay in 22 Gwangju hotels recommended by the municipal authorities.

The opening ceremony of the masters championships will be held at Nambu University on Sunday.

The 80minute opening ceremony set to begin at 7:30 p.m. will feature various music performances under the theme Wave of Harmony. The closing ceremony will take place at the May 18 Democracy Square and the Asia Culture Center on Aug. 18.

The municipality plans to offer various tour and culture programs for domestic and foreign visitors.

Gwangju city tour buses will run on six routes, while a variety of food, cultural and exhibition events will be held at the athletes' village, a street market at Nambu University and the May 18 square.

The FINA Masters Championships is a festival of aquatic sports enthusiasts from all over the world. We have made a lot of preparations to help both athletes and visitors enjoy the beauty, taste and fun of Gwangju, said Gwangju Mayor Lee Yongsup, who also serves as chief of the Organizing Committee of the FINA Masters Championships.

The FINA World Championships is considered one of the world's topfive mega sports events, along with the Summer and Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup and the World Championships in Athletics.

As the FINA World Championships was successfully hosted by Gwangju last month, South Korea has become the world's fourth country to host all of the topfive mega sports events after Germany, Italy and Japan.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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