Skip to content

Swimming world titles face Australian television blackout

by ZwemZa on July 8th, 2019

Kyle Chalmers will try to overcome US star Caeleb Dressel in a blue-chip race in Korea.Credit:AAP

The biggest swimming event of the year, featuring some of Australia’s best-known Olympic athletes, is unlikely to be shown on Australian television as broadcasters baulk at what they consider a prohibitive rights deal being offered by the sport’s governing body FINA.

Swimming Australia has continued to work behind the scenes to facilitate a last-minute arrangement, or provide Australian fans with access to streaming coverage, but with just weeks to go before the meet starts in Gwangju, Korea there has been little movement at any of the stations.

At this point, the only option is to pay around $30 for FINA’s own streaming service. It’s a far cry from the days when world championships were primetime viewing as Australia’s elite swimmers locked horns with their counterparts from around the globe.

SA chief executive Leigh Russell said talks were ongoing ahead of the meet, which begins for the swimmers on July 21.

“Swimming Australia is aware the rights for the FINA world championships have not been purchased in Australia. We know this is important to Australian swimming fans and also to growing the sport globally,” Russell said.

“We are currently in discussions with FINA regarding alternative options for viewing the broadcast in Australia and hope to be in a position to provide and update soon.”

Aside from the 2013 event, it would be the first time since 1986 that there was no television coverage of a world championships on Australian screens. Seven has the rights for swimming until 2025 but that deal only included the 2015 and 2017 world championships, not beyond.

ABC broadcast the Perth titles in 1991, with Seven taking over in 1994 (Rome) and 1998 (Perth). Nine would cover the next four, then Ten (2009, 2011) and back to Seven for the most-recent titles in Kazan and Budapest.

Gwangju is one hour behind the east coast of Australia and would have represented a perfect timeline to broadcast the night finals, which will provide some electric racing. There looks to be no shortage of highlights as a small but talented Australian team goes through its paces one year out from the Tokyo Games.

Kyle Chalmers will be going head to head with American gun Caeleb Dressel as both seek bragging rights in the 100m freestyle ahead of the Olympics. Dressel won seven gold medals at the 2017 world championships but Chalmers beat him at last year’s Pan Pacs in Tokyo.

Cate Campbell will face another important step on her road back in the 100m freestyle for women, where she will face world-record holder, close friend but even fiercer rival Sarah Sjostrom from Sweden.

Mack Horton meets his arch-rival Sun Yang in the 400m and in what may be the clash of the meet and rising distance star Ariarne Titmus will have another chance to dethrone the queen of the pool, American Katie Ledecky, in the women’s freestyle distance events.

Should the Australians swim up to – or better – than their trial form in Brisbane last month, they could bring home a swag of medals. But with no local television exposure, it’s unlikely to make as big of a splash as SA would have liked.

Phil Lutton | The Sydney Morning Herald

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: