Haze forces changes in this weekend's Fina Swimming World Cup
Among changes implemented, Fina cancels men's 1,500m and women's 800m free
Like most sports events over the past weeks, the Singapore leg of the Fina Swimming World Cup is also at risk due to the haze.
It was billed as an event to bring top-class swimming action to Singapore, with famous names like Missy Franklin, Cameron van der Burgh and Katinka Hosszu all set to compete this weekend at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
However, the haze is threatening to cause a few problems at the event and Cornel Marculescu, Fina's executive director, insists no risks will be taken.
"Our No. 1 priority is the health of the athletes, officials, spectators and everyone else involved," he said at yesterday's pre-meet press conference.
"We will be looking to limit the physical efforts of the athletes because it can be very stressful in our sport, and the recommendation of the Singapore government is to reduce this exertion in the hazy conditions."
Already, changes have been implemented to ensure the swimmers' well-being is not compromised.
The men's 1,500m and women's 800m freestyle events have been cancelled due to their prolonged exertions on the swimmers.
In accordance with National Environment Agency (NEA)'s health advisory, no action will take place at the OCBC Aquatic Centre if the three-hour Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) reading for the hour is above 200 and enters the "Very Unhealthy" range.
In the event the morning's heats, which are now scheduled to start at 10am today, cannot proceed, the 10-person field for the evening's finals will then be decided based on the swimmers' seed timings.
Still, despite the event being hampered by the weather, Marculescu does not believe it affects Singapore's appeal as a World Cup venue.
The Romanian added: "We have been (holding events) here since 2007 and it already feels like home.
"Singapore is a very attractive location and you also hear the swimmers say that they are very happy to be here.
"Ideally, we hope weather conditions do not affect us. But, even if they do, we just have to live with the reality."
One swimmer familiar with the conditions is breaststroke specialist Kevin Cordes, who set up his training base here in June as he is working with Singapore head coach Sergio Lopez.
"I think everyone will be faced with the same elements, so I'm just going to go out there and try to manage it as best as possible," said the American.
"It's something you can't really control, so I'm just going to worry about the things I can control."
His sentiments were echoed by Hosszu, who is leading the women's overall standings.
"Obviously, it (the haze) is unfortunate but we can't do anything about it," said the Hungarian who calls herself the Iron Lady.
"We'll try to make the best of the situation and hopefully everything will be able to go ahead as scheduled."
- Men's 100m freestyle
- Women's 200m free
- Men's 50m breaststroke
- Women's 100m breast
- Women's 100m butterfly
- Men's 100m backstroke
- Women's 50m back
- Men's 200m fly
- Women's 200m individual medley
- Men's 400m free
- Women's 50m free
- Men's 200m breast
- Women's 200m back
- Men's 50 fly
- Men's 400m IM
* From 6pm at the OCBC Aquatic Centre
Fina Official Slams 'Doping' Claims
The question irked him so much that he turned away momentarily in disgust before answering it.
Fina executive director Cornel Marculescu was asked by The New Paper about allegations by a new rival world swimming organisation that the Rio Olympics next year will be a "nightmare of doping".
"I think we are one of the top, if not the No. 1, international federation when it comes to monitoring doping activities in our sport," said Marculescu on the sidelines of the Fina Swimming Cup Singapore press conference at the Kallang Wave Mall atrium yesterday.
Two weeks ago, Australia's The Daily Telegraph quoted John Leonard, head of the World Swimming Coaches Association, as saying that world swimming body Fina has "given up" on running a "clean sport".
Leonard, who claimed to be in anti-doping for more than 30 years, said that there are "giant loopholes" in catching errant athletes, many of whom cheat via "micro-doping".
He also blamed Fina on being lax with swimmers such as China's Sun Yang, who tested positive for the stimulant trimetazidine during the Chinese Nationals last year and was given a backdated three-month ban by the China Anti-Doping Agency.
In the article, Leonard added that the testing methods are outdated, but did not say how they can be improved.
But Marculescu hit back at the claims, saying Fina spends millions a year to fight the spectre of doping.
He said: "We knock on swimmers' doors unannounced, out of competition, to get them to take doping tests and are spending between US$1.5 million ($2.14m) and US$2m a year on such tests around the world each year.
"We work closely with the various national anti-doping agencies... and the reality is, that we are probably one of the leading international federations that fight against doping."