An estimated 400,000 people lined the streets of the western Japanese city that is set to host the 20th FINA World Championships during the Hakata Dontaku Port Festival during the country’s Golden Week, the first time the two-day event has been held in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking to build on the city’s intense interest in both aquatics and again hosting the FINA World Championships, event organisers marched the parade, staged appearances and set up information booths that prominently featured local swimming club athletes.

On the main parade stage, local elementary students announced their swimming goals inspired by the city hosting next summer’s FINA World Championships.

Event mascots Sealight and Shirney promoted the event, which included virtual reality tours of the competition venues dressed up in event mode. Official merchandise was selling off the shelves as well.

While the swimming world looks to the upcoming FINA World Championships in less than a month in Budapest, Hungary, it’s a welcome sight to see the city of Fukuoka building the stoke to the 20th event edition, which will take place from 14-30 July 2023. The FINA World Masters Championships will follow soon after, taking place from 2-11 August 2023.