Copenhagen gives up rights to 2021 artistic worlds after FIG sticks to October dates
By Jonathan Rest
FIG, gymnastics' governing body, today expressed its disappointment after Copenhagen relinquished its hosting rights to the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in 2021, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent one-year delay of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
FIG said it had been informed by GymDanmark, the Danish Gymnastics Federation, that the capital's Royal Arena will no longer be hosting the championships from 18 to 24 October next year.
The national governing body said it remains committed to staging a world championships, and would be submitting a bid for the 2025 edition.
A new, fast-tracked bid process for 2021 is expected to be launched in due course.
FIG gave no reason for the Danish action, noting only in a statement: "The FIG Executive Committee has taken note of this decision and has expressed its regret and disappointment. The EC will shortly consider all consequences resulting from this situation, including the launch of a new bidding procedure for this event."
However, GymDanmark chairman Anders Jacobsen said: "With the Covid-19 scenarios we know of right now, both when looking at the World Championships and the association as a whole, we are looking into a considerable financial loss which together can pose a great financial risk to the overall GymDanmark. The board has therefore, with great regret, had to decide to resign from the role of organisers of the World Championships in 2021."
FIG announced in April that it had no plans to move the 2021 artistic championships, despite the 12-month delay of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
While a number of international federations, most notably World Athletics and swimming's FINA, have moved their showpiece events next year to make way for the Olympics, FIG was insistent the two-month gap between the end of the games and the start of its championships was sufficient.However, in its statement, GymDanmark said it was concerned the top gymnasts would not attend, which would impact the commercial appeal of the championships and revenue opportunities.
It noted: "The pandemic has meant that the Olympics in Japan is postponed to August 2021, which is two months before the World Championships event. Against this background, it is expected that the best gymnasts will not come to the World Championships."
Copenhagen was awarded the 2021 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships back in March 2018.
Denmark has staged the event once before, in Aarhus in 2006, and the 2021 edition was due to be organised by GymDanmark in partnership with Sport Event Denmark, the event hosting body, and Wonderful Copenhagen, the tourist body of the city of Copenhagen.
The World Artistic Gymnastics Championships are traditionally held every year, but not in summer Olympics years, with the 2022 and 2023 editions slated for Liverpool in Great Britain and Antwerp in Belgium respectively.
Meanwhile, FIG today confirmed the postponement of this year's annual congress in Antalya, Turkey from this October to October 2021, citing the impact of Covid-19.
It said that of its 148 member federations, only six "expressed reservations or opinions which differed" from the executive committee's stance to move the congress.
It means president Morinari Watanabe will now serve an additional year in office.
He said: "The congress is the most important event in the democratic life of the International Federation. In view of the massive disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we must accept that the situation is not the same in every country, and must not deprive any federation of the opportunity to make its voice heard at the general assembly.
"When I became president of the FIG, I set the concept of family as the main axis of my policy, which means thinking first of all about the members of the Gymnastics family and how to support them and bring them together. In these difficult times, it is even more necessary to show fraternity and solidarity."