Photos before the 2019 Gwangju FINA World Championships Closing Ceremony cultural performances at the Asia Culture Center, Dong-gu, Gwangju (July 28, 2019)(clockwise from top left) South Korean swimmer Kim Seo-young; Chinese swimming star Sun Yang won his 4th consecutive world title; Australian Matthew Wilson equaled the world record; Australia celebrates winning the women’s 800m relay.A performance with the theme of ‘Circle of Life’ at the closing ceremony of Gwangju FINA World Championships at Asia Culture Center, Dong-gu, Gwangju (July 28, 2019) c. Yonhap News
| The largest championships ever; Praised as great competition setting new records.
| Chairman LEE Yong-seop holds closing ceremony press conference on 28th
| The most teams ever participated…Established 23 new world and Championship records
| Low cost, high efficiency; Successful method for staging international competitions”
| The Masters Championships will be held from August 5 to 18
With cultural performances highlighting the beauty of the local Namdo region, the 2019 Gwangju FINA World Championships concluded its seventeen-day journey and handed over the championship flag to the next hosts.
The hour-long cultural performance was held at the Asia Culture Center from 5pm on July 28th. Under the theme “Circle of Life”, the omnibus fantasy play based on the natural life cycle perfectly showcased the seasonal beauty of Namdo.
More than 10,000 people attended the closing ceremony on the same day, including Minister LEE Nak-yon, Chairman LEE Yong-seop, invited guests, and members of the wider FINA family. Before the ceremony, Chairman LEE said, “I would like to thank all of you, including FINA, the FINA family, athletes, press, people of South Korea, and the 1.5 million citizens of Gwangju who have together made the 2019 Gwangju FINA World Championships a successful competition.”
The ceremony at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center was preceded by the final swimming events at 8 p.m. Following the conclusion of the swimming, the official closing ceremony began at 10:40 p.m., with a video showing highlights from the 17 days of passion and competition in Gwangju, reliving the Championships’ most touching moments.
The curtain was finally drawn on the 17-day Gwangju FINA World Championships, a swimming festival filled with enthusiasm, cheers, and records, when Gwangju mayor and committee chairman LEE Yong-seop declared the official closure of the event, with the promise to meet again in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2021.
The largest Championships ever, with more than 7,500 athletes and 194 countries! ‘Splendid Festival with New Records’– 8 New World Records
The 2019 Gwangju FINA World Championships wrote a new chapter in world swimming history with various new world records and notable firsts, featuring athletes competing on the world stage for the first time, including a refugee representing their country with the dream of reaching the Tokyo Olympics.
According to the organizing committee, the Championships set a new record for the largest number of competitors and represented nations, with more than 7,500 athletes from 194 countries. This year’s event was more prestigious than ever as it allowed 43% of athletes to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Championships made world swimming history with 8 new world records, 16 Championship records, and 4 new Korean records. China topped the overall rankings with 16 gold medals, followed by the United States with 15 golds, then Russia, Australia, and Hungary. South Korea finished in twenty-third place. Their only medal was KIM Suji’s bronze, but Korean swimming showed great potential.
KIM Suji was the only Korean medalist in the Championships, winning the bronze medal in the 1-meter springboard. This was Korea’s first ever diving medal, so KIM’s efforts set a new national milestone in diving. Meanwhile, the Korean women’s polo team was the most talked about during the Championships. Their goal for the competition was not to win, but to just score a goal, something they achieved in the second round against Russia. The national team placed 16th with five losses, but the players gave their all and garnered attention for their passion. The men’s water polo also set a new Korean record, with the nation’s first ever Championships water polo win, beating New Zealand 5-4 with the final throw in the 15-16th playoff match.
Successful Model for ‘Low cost, High efficiency International Competition’
The 2019 Gwangju FINA World Championships reused some items from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, to positive public acclaim.
According to the organizing committee on 24th, the Championships reused about 750-million-won worth of Pyeongchang Olympic items. Additionally, the Nambu University swimming pool, where diving and water polo were held, was a facility used during the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade and will be removed as those facilities were prefabricated, including audience seats.
The water polo and high-diving venue is a temporary construction of steel frames and tanks, which will be used again at the Tokyo Olympics next year.
The 2019 Gwangju FINA World Championships had a smaller budget than other events, but the high-tech facilities and efficient operation made a perfect competition without any problems such as post-facility management, utilization issues or a financial burden on the local government. The mayor emphasized, “We will continue to minimize the amount of taxpayers’ money by choosing substance over fancy appearance, while still benefitting from the tangible and intangible effects of hosting the Championships, such as urban brand improvement, civic pride, legacy projects, and so on.”
‘The festival is not over yet’, FINA World Masters Championships runs from August 5 to 18
The world-class athletes may have left, but the swimming competition continues. The Masters Championships, an event for amateur swimmers, will run from August 5 to 18. A total of 15,000 swimmers from more than 200 countries have already registered to compete.
As with the World Championships, Gwangju city plans to have civic supporters during the Masters Championships. With the high interest of Gwangju city, the organizing committee, and the citizens of Gwangju, the city looks forward to the success of the World Championships to be continued in the Masters Championships.