FINA Communications Department

The 18th edition of the FINA World Championships concluded today in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, following 17 days of world-class competition that has broken records in more ways than one. 

Over 2,500 athletes from 194 nations (plus a refugee team) - the highest ever for a FINA World Championships - competed for the top prizes. Just one year out from Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, tens of thousands of spectators and millions of aquatics fans tuning-in around the world, were treated to the highest quality competition featuring the sport’s elite athletes, during which 10 World Records were broken in the Swimming events.

Gwangju 2019 brought a number of firsts, including an exciting debut for beach water polo, a new thrilling event in Artistic Swimming - the Highlight Routine, and a final Gala Exhibition at the end of this discipline’s programme. It also saw the introduction of new technologies and live pre-race, behind-the-scenes footage from the ready room, ensuring fans watching on a full range of devices felt part of the action. 

A total of over 350 hours of live production were provided by the host broadcaster, MBC of Korea (Open Water, Artistic Swimming, High Diving, and Water Polo), together with TV Asahi of Japan (Swimming and Diving). 

“Firstly, I would like to congratulate all of the athletes who competed in what has been a hugely successful FINA World Championships here in Gwangju,” said FINA President Dr Julio C. Maglione. “There is no doubt that these two unforgettable weeks of elite competition will only help aquatics go from strength to strength, and continue to grow our sport around the world. I would like to thank the Government of the Republic of Korea, the City of Gwangju, the Korean Swimming Federation and the Organising Committee for being such hospitable hosts and for all their support, as well as the athletes, coaches, officials and respective National Federations for their continued hard work and dedication.”

In the closing Press Conference on July 28, the Mayor of Gwangju Lee Yong-sup also expressed his satisfaction for having the FINA Family in his city: “We are deeply grateful to FINA. Their trust and confidence in our city made this competition a very successful one. The citizens of Gwangju must also be proud of this achievement. They welcomed the FINA Family in the best possible way and were highly praised for their kindness and hospitality.”

The Closing Ceremony of the 18th FINA World Championships included a Cultural Performance with the presence of Prime-Minister of Republic of Korea Lee Nak-yeon, and saw the handover of the FINA flag from the 2019 organiser, Gwangju, to the host of the 2021 edition of the FINA showcase, Fukuoka (JPN).

In collaboration with the Korean Anti-Doping Agency (KADA), FINA maintained a rigorous and robust anti-doping policy throughout the World Championships. Over 450 doping control tests were carried out. In addition, FINA’s Anti-Doping Education Programme: ‘Be Clean, Just Like Our Water’, ran throughout the World Championships in the Athletes’ Village to support FINA’s commitment to protecting clean athletes, thus remaining one of the leading International Federations in the fight against doping. Since January 1, 2019 the ITA (International Testing Agency) has been in charge of the management and supervision of FINA’s out-of-competition testing programme. During this period, FINA conducted 343 in-competition missions and 1638 out-of-competition missions. This cooperation will only increase in the coming months in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.