"After two weeks of an outstanding aquatics show, the 2019 Gwangju World Championships have finished the 17th day of competition," Lee Yong-sup, head of the organizing committee, said in a press conference.
|Lee Yong-sup, head of the organizing committee (Yonhap)|
He said FINA, the international swimming governing body, recognizes the Gwangju championships as the most successful tournament in its history, as a record 7,500 athletes from 194 countries participated in and eight new world records were set through Saturday.
"World-class athletes set more than eight world records, 15 new championship records and four new Korean records," he said. "It is a great honor and pride for us to be able to organize such a global sporting event, especially with the eyes of the world focused on Gwangju and our nation."
FINA President Julio Maglione said he is satisfied with the management and facilities of the Gwangju championships, along with Gwangju citizens' warm reception.
"The venues were excellent, the athletes and media village had top-level standards, and the overall management of the competition allowed memorable performances from our stars," he said. "The FINA family also appreciated the superb hospitality of the Korean people and the kindness of the Gwangju citizens.
Moreover, Lee, the organizing committee chairman, put an emphasis on cost-saving efforts in hosting the world championships in Gwangju, some 330 kilometers south of Seoul.
Gwangju spent a total of 224.4 billion won ($189.4 million) for the event, compared with 4.3 trillion won for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and 657.2 billion won for the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu.
"We are very proud that the Gwangju World Championships were done on a much smaller budget than any other competition," he said.
"There will be no financial burden for the local governments because we have operated in an efficient way."
|Performance at the closing ceremony (Yonhap)|
Based on the success of the swimming championships, Lee hoped that Gwangju becomes a swimming hub in South Korea, taking the lead in cultivating elite athletes and fostering swimming leaders.
"I will actively review the hosting of the Korea Swimming Promotion Center in cooperation with the government," he said. "(I will also hold) national swimming championships and masters competitions from next year, which can discover young talents in swimming and diving."
The 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships will wrap up its 17-day contests on Sunday. The next competition will be held in Fukuoka, Japan, two years later. (Yonhap)