Artis­tic dif­fer­ences di­vid­ing devo­tees of ‘syn­chro’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BUDAPEST — FINA will not re­vert to ‘syn­chro­nized swim­ming’ af­ter the name of the sport was changed to ‘artis­tic swim­ming’ last week, the world gov­ern­ing body’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, Cor­nel Mar­culescu, said on Wed­nes­day.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion that over­sees world swim­ming — which also elected top of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing a new term for 81-year-old chair­man Julio Maglione — voted to change the name to at­tract a wider au­di­ence to a sport that has ex­panded re­cently, in­clud­ing hav­ing male com­peti­tors.

“This is­sue (re­nam­ing the sport) is com­ing out from the media... and also from the (In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee) to give an­other di­men­sion to syn­chro not to be only syn­chro swim­ming but to be a ver y artis­tic sport,” Mar­culescu said at the world cham­pi­onships.

How­ever, the de­ci­sion has drawn crit­i­cism, in­clud­ing from thou­sands of on­line protest votes at pe­ti­tion web­site change.org, and a de­fi­ant call from the deputy prime min­is­ter of Rus­sia, a pow­er­house in the sport.

“To keep the name syn­chro­nized swim­ming is our right, and if the Russian Swim­ming Fed­er­a­tion it­self, the coaches will want it, we will do it,” Vi­taly Mutko, a for­mer sports min­is­ter, told Rus­sia’s staterun TASS news agency, sports web­site Inside the Games re­ported.

“Such things as re­nam­ing are born spon­ta­neously,” Mutko added.

“Now the whole dis­ci­pline has got a new name, and what is the point? The main thing is that changes in the rules do not follow.”

Mar­culescu con­firmed the rules of the sport would not be al­tered.

“Noth­ing changes, only the name. I don’t see any great dif- fi­culty with that. I un­der­stand the com­men­tary of Mr Mutko, but it’s no prob­lem. We talk about the same sport any­how.”

About the on­line pe­ti­tion, which had col­lected nearly 9,000 sig­na­tures by late on Wed­nes­day, Mar­culescu said: “It’s in­ter­est­ing to have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion.”

The pe­ti­tion reads: “What both (FINA and the IOC) are for­get­ting is that syn­chro is a sport with ex­treme ath­leti- cism, power, strength, flex­i­bil­ity and en­durance.

“Re­nam­ing it ‘artis­tic swim­ming’ pays ab­so­lutely no re­spect to syn­chro­nized swim­mers.

“FINA has only just re­cently opened the door for men to com­pete at the (world cham­pi­onships), and this name change will be more of a de­ter­rent to males than a call­ing card.”

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