Aquatic Festival has started in Shanghai!
The 14th FINA World Championships have officially started after an impressive Opening Ceremony, attended by the entire FINA Family, the IOC President Mr. Jacques Rogge and the Chinese dignitaries, namely Mr. Yu Zhengsheng, Secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Comunist Party of China. After the raise of China’s flag, and the ones from Italy and Spain, respectively the organisers of the 2009 and 2013 editions, the vibrant show continued with an ode to water, light and music.
Thanks to hundreds of participants, it was paid tribute to the common element to all FINA disciplines, the water. Spectacular choreographies on the pool deck and in the pool portrayed the spirit of water in Chinese philosophy and its values of harmony and purity. In a Tribute to Heroes, some FINA stars were called to the stage of this Ceremony to symbolise the FINA sports: open water swimmer Ky Hurst (AUS), synchronised swimmer Natalia Ischenko (RUS), water polo player Tony Azevedo (USA), open water swimmer Valerio Cleri (ITA), diver Chen Ruolin (CHN), and swimmer Liu Zige (CHN).
Then the flag parade of the 181 countries participating in these Championships highlighted the universality of this competition, held for the first time in China.
Shanghai 2011 Opening Ceremony - Credit: Giorgio Scala
In his official speech, the FINA President made a vibrant appeal: “Aquatic athletes of the world, please compete in the spirit of FINA – Excellence, Friendship and Respect. Good luck and the best to win”. One of the FINA stars, Natalia Ischenko then took the athlete’s oath, while China’s Ji Rongjang took the referee’s oath.
Opening Press Conference
Earlier in the day, FINA held the Opening Press Conference of the Championships, with the presence of the FINA Executive (President Dr. Julio C. Maglione, Honorary Secretary Paolo Barelli, Honorary Treasurer Pipat Paniangvait, and Executive Director Cornel Marculescu).
Highlighting the excellent organisation and the new record of countries in this competition – 181 nations with over 2200 athletes -, Dr. Maglione also praised the quality of the venues, located at the Oriental Sports Centre complex. “The city and Government of Shanghai really have done an outstanding job. These venues will be a legacy for our Sport here in Shanghai and this multifunctional arena will be site of various cultural, educational and sport activities”, he said.
The FINA President also recalled the great attractiveness of the competition for the media: “At the IBC there are 35 networks, with a total of 800 professionals. From written media, there is over 560 journalists, plus 250 photographers. Also for the first time in our FINA World Championships, journalists have a dedicated building to perform their work.”
For 16 days, images of the five aquatic disciplines will reach billions of TV viewers worldwide. “CCTV, the host broadcaster prepared an outstanding production plan, all in High Definition. I would like to underline that this is the most extensive production plan in the history of FINA World Championships, exceeding the Aquatics coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing”, considered the FINA President. The TV signal of the competition will reach 212 countries in the five continents.
These Championships will see the re-introduction of doping blood tests, which will be carried out with the traditional urine controls, and will constitute an important qualifying event for the 2012 Olympic Games in London (GBR), where “FINA will continue being a pillar of the Games programme”.