UK Sport’s efforts to bring the world’s leading sports events to the UK continued today as the organisation committed £950,000 of Lottery funding towards the staging costs of the 2008 World Short Course Championships in Manchester.
Britain is one of five countries that submitted formal bid documents to FINA, swimming’s world governing body, last month to stage the event – the others being Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Sweden. A decision is due to be announced in Indianapolis, venue of the 2004 World Short Course Championships, in October.
‘The UK is developing an excellent track record of hosting the showpiece events of Olympic sports, with the 2000 World Track Cycling Championships in Manchester and the 2003 World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham greatly enhancing our reputation,’ says John Scott, UK Sport’s Director of Major Events.
‘The UK has already secured the 2006 World Rowing Championships, being staged in Eton, and the 2008 World Short Course Championships in Manchester would be a significant addition to the calendar. The legacy of benefits we would expect the event to generate for swimming would be tremendous.’
David Sparkes, Chief Executive of British Swimming, added: ‘British Swimming welcomes the support of UK Sport. The World Short Course Championships in 2008 will be the first ever swimming world championships held in the UK.
‘It’s part of our long-term performance strategy and it will enable us once again to ignite the interest of the nation into the sport of swimming as we did in 2002 in Manchester. The nation will be able to see British athletes achieving success on the world stage and hopefully it will be a fantastic pre-cursor to the 2012 Olympic Games in this country.’
The decision to mount a bid for the World Short Course Championships came after a detailed feasibility study, conducted by British Swimming in partnership with Manchester City Council and UK Sport.
Explains Scott: ‘FINA specify a minimum spectator capacity of 8,000-10,000 for the championships, which the UK can’t currently satisfy with the permanent swimming facilities we possess, so we had to devise an alternative strategy. The solution being proposed to FINA – to use two temporary 25-metre pools at the MEN Arena – fully satisfies the detailed technical requirements of the bid. Indeed, the model of using temporary facilities to stage this sort of event, avoiding any expensive ‘white elephants’ in the long-term, is becoming an ever more acceptable method and one that FINA actually encourages.
‘We firmly believe that the UK can deliver a truly world class event in 2008 that will benefit all levels of the sport. The funding committed today by UK Sport will give FINA absolute confidence in the merits of British Swimming’s bid.’
Scott added that he expects the vote by FINA to award the event in October to be close, though he is confident that the British bid will be a strong contender.
‘Bidding for the top tier of events is becoming increasingly competitive and complex. However, the lessons learned by Manchester in staging the Commonwealth Games and the reputation the UK is forging as a host of world class events stand us in good stead and we approach October’s vote by FINA with guarded optimism.
‘With the race to stage the 2012 Olympic Games in full swing, it will also be interesting to see how one of the Olympic movement’s biggest sports rates the British bid.’
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Rob Burgess, UK Sport press office:
T: 020 72115174/07989 506312
David Richards, British Swimming press office
T: 07789 926136
Janine Watson, Manchester City Council:
T: 0161 2343337 / 07771 833547