S’pore to host World Aquatics C’ships in 2025 after Russia stripped of event

The Republic will be the first Southeast Asian country to host the sporting event, while Russia was stripped of the rights due to its invasion of Ukraine.

David Lee

David Lee

The Straits Times


Swimmer Teong Tzen Wei is likely to be one of the Singapore's leading swimmers when the nation hosts the 2025 World Aquatics Championships. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

February 10, 2023

SINGAPORE – High divers executing somersaults and twists in the heart of the city at Marina Bay, while top swimmers make a splash in the National Stadium to cheers from a capacity 55,000 crowd.

Local fans are in for a treat in 2025, when Singapore hosts the World Aquatics Championships in a move that will further enhance its reputation as a destination for marquee sporting events.

The Republic will be the first South-east Asian country to host the prestigious sporting event that comprises swimming, diving, high diving, open water swimming, artistic swimming and water polo.

Japan, China and South Korea are the only other Asian countries to have hosted the event.

The announcement was made at the National Stadium on Thursday, with World Aquatics president Husain Al-Musallam, executive director Brent Nowicki, Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin, Singapore Swimming Association president Mark Chay and aquatics stars Ian Thorpe (swimming), Pandelela Rinong (diving) and Felipe Perrone (water polo) in attendance.

While the dates will be announced later, the event will be at the Singapore Sports Hub, which includes the National Stadium, the Singapore Indoor Stadium and the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

Feasibility studies are ongoing to see how pools can be built inside the 55,000-seater National Stadium, with a purpose-built high diving facility possibly being set up at Marina Bay.

The 2023 and 2024 World Aquatics Championships will be held in Fukuoka, Japan and Doha, Qatar respectively.

While the 2015 venue Kazan won the bid to host the 2025 edition, it was stripped of the rights due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, allowing Singapore to step in.

Chay said: “Imagine the thrill of watching the world’s best in your own backyard performing feats beyond your wildest dreams. Imagine what inspiration they will bring to a young athlete to see a world record being broken.

“Imagine what joy it will be for athletes registering a personal best or winning a medal at the 2025 World Championships and what that will do for their careers.

“Imagine the pride Singaporeans will feel for the sport and the country as they support athletes competing against the backdrop of some of Singapore’s most iconic landmarks. These are the legacies I hope hosting the 2025 World Championships will leave behind.”

Over 2,500 athletes from 209 national member federations are expected to participate.

Joseph Schooling, who won Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Games, is the only Singaporean swimmer to bag medals at the world championships.

He claimed bronzes in the 100m butterfly at both the 2015 and 2017 editions, but fans will be hoping for another Singaporean to follow suit in his or her own backyard.

Australian swim legend Thorpe, who won 11 gold medals at the World Championships, described the event as a rock concert when he competed at Perth in 1998, said on Thursday: “If you don’t have the opportunity to see what it’s like, you can’t be the next Joseph Schooling.

“This is why I encourage everyone to get behind this.”

Singaporean Teong Tzen Wei, who made the 2022 World Championships’ men’s 50m butterfly final and won a silver in the same event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, said: “If I do a personal best and what I know I’m capable of doing, I’ll be really pleased with that.

”Getting a medal will not necessarily mean more for me than other people, like other younger swimmers to show that it is possible for a tiny guy like me to stand up to the big guys. This is why people love sports.”

As the host, Singapore is also expected to get more quota spots to compete, as national artistic swimmer Debbie Soh and diver Max Lee also called for more support and publicity for the lesser-known disciplines.

World Aquatics president Al-Musallam is confident “there will be no white elephants” even if some of the facilities will be temporary.

In a boost for tourism in Singapore, he also revealed that the 2025 World Aquatics Masters Championships will also be held here, with up to 10,000 people from various age categories expected to compete.

The former Kuwait national swimmer said: “Singapore has everything we hope to share with our athletes – world-class facilities, proven experience of hosting events of the highest quality and a comprehensive approach to aquatic sports that runs from elite level to the community.”

High-profile sporting events Singapore hosted in recent years

2008-present: Formula One Singapore Grand Prix

2009: Asian Youth Games

2010: Youth Olympic Games

2014-2018: WTA Finals (tennis)

2016-present: HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series

2017-2019: International Champions Cup (football)

2022-present: WTT Grand Smash (table tennis)

2023: Sail Grand Prix

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