LEN Operation Manager Marco Birri admits this is a very difficult situation for organizers of sports competitions due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but he is still determined that the 35th European Aquatics Championships will be a memorable event for all the participants.
‘We are all aware of the special circumstances which make the organization of the Europeans complicated, but we already have some experience in arranging major events during the Covid period’ – Mr Birri said. ‘Since November we’ve successfully organized a couple of important competitions, including the six bubble tournaments of the LEN Water Polo Champions League. The European Championships, however, will be a tougher challenge.’
More than 4000 people will be involved in the upcoming weeks in Budapest. LEN, along with the local organizers and the Semmelweis University have set out a clear guide line to minimize risks. ‘Safety first’ – this is the most important objective.
‘Regarding the entries, at least 50 of the 52 countries that are registered for LEN, will be represented at the European Championships. This is a real success considering the conditions set up by the pandemic. The Europeans is the greatest event before the Tokyo Olympics. There are some athletes who haven’t even had the chance to test themselves in any competitions in their home countries, so this event will be an exceptional occasion for them.’
The contests of the European Championships will be held in two different venues, the Danube Arena (swimming, diving and artistic swimming) and the Lake Lupa (open water swimming).
‘The Danube Arena has proved to be a fantastic host of plenty of major aquatics events in the last couple of years, and it will be the case this time as well, no doubt about that. It has great facilities and is located near the river Danube, close to the city center and the official hotels. The Lupa is a positive surprise to me. I hadn’t known the venue before I visited it recently, but I really like it. It is very important that it can be found just outside Budapest and reachable in 15 minutes from the city. I am sure the athletes will enjoy the environment there.’
Because of the Covid situation the events will be held behind closed doors, no fans will be allowed to the enter the venues.
‘We hope this will be a sole occasion that the European Champonships will be arranged without any fans, but everybody has to realize that there are no alternatives in this moment. No one like this difficult situation, but we are still organizing one of the greatest sports event of the year. We hope it will be a memorable Europeans for the athletes, and do not forget that with the help of technology we will provide all the action and through our social media platforms exclusive information from behind the scenes as well for those who will follow the competitions from their homes.’