Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee member

With a spectacular closing ceremony, Hungary bade farewell to the 17th FINA World Championships, the biggest event the country ever staged. In his final remarks, FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione declared it “the best World Championships ever in FINA history”. OC President Miklos Sesztak emphasised that Hungary made what many had thought impossible, to organise the championships in two years.

Based on the theme of one of the most iconic Hungarian legends, the tale of the Wonder Deer which tells the story of the Magyar people’s origins, the closing ceremony offered a series of breathtaking scenes. Almost 4,000 spectators gathered in the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Hall and applauded the dancers and the artists who produced a brilliant show.
 

In his closing speech FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione praised the environment the Hungarians created for the World Championships. “Our athletes, coaches and officials lived an intense and unforgettable experience during these two weeks! They all felt at home here and could enjoy outstanding facilities, a great atmosphere at crowded venues, and the kind hospitality from the Magyar people. This contributed to great performances in all our six aquatic disciplines.”

A roar of applause welcomed the President’s assessment on the event. “Thank you also to the thousands of volunteers that gave their best to welcome the FINA Family here! Everyone’s support, enthusiasm and professionalism were great and led to the staging of the best World Championships ever in the FINA history! Congratulations!”

 

Photo by BP2017/Istvan Derencsenyi

OC President and the Minister of National Development Miklos Sesztak thanked FINA to trust in the country and to work closely together with the organisers, their common efforts resulted a fantastic event. He recalled when Hungary stepped in to organise the 2017 FINA World Championships, curtailing the preparation period to two years instead of the planned eight (for 2021), he insisted that the OC staff should not refer to this in their everyday work, they had to deliver. However, he said “If it was not perceptible during the World Championships that we had had only two years for the preparation we really can claim to have done the impossible. In this case, I can legitimately say to my colleagues, from myself as well as on behalf of the Prime Minister, Mr Viktor Orbán, who is presently abroad: THANK YOU.”

Just as the FINA President, the head of the OC hailed the 3,000 volunteers whose contribution was the key of the event’s success. Mr. Sesztak bide farewell to the FINA Family with the following words: “I can state from myself as well as on behalf of the Hungarian Government that we are looking forward to welcoming you back any time with open arms should any new challenge arise. It was true in the past but from now on, it will be all the more true:  you will be coming home to Hungary.”

 

The handover of the FINA flag to Gwangju 2019 - Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Then, together with Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos they handed over the FINA Flag to FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione who handed it over to the next host, the Mayor of Gwanju, Yanghyun Yoon. 

Mr. Yoon first recalled the great moments of the current edition by saying “Athletes from 183 countries came together, competed, and celebrated aquatic sports and lifelong friendship. This is the power of sports, my friends.”

Introducing the host of the 2019 FINA World Championships, the Mayor said: “Gwangju is the city built on the values of democracy, human rights and peace. The strength of Gwangju comes from our citizens who believe in these values. We hope to spread this solidarity in Gwangju Spirit to the World through the Championships. This is why our slogan is ’Dive into Peace.’”

Photo by BP2017/Istvan Derencsenyi

The Koreans also gave an appetizer from their culture by staging a short show, promising something special for the 2019 opening ceremony. But as of now, the FINA Flag was lowered and the FINA Fountain, the Olympig flame-like symbol of the 17th FINA World Championships ceased to spread water next to the Duna Arena, marking the end of the two-week spectacle in Budapest and Balatonfured.