The International Gymnastics Federation, FIG, has designated Antwerp as host of the 2023 world gymnastics championship.
The federation, presided by Morinari Watanabe of Japan, had expected to award the hosting of the games to Japan. However, the Japanese bid was invalidated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for being submitted too late.
Watanabe, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee- since October 2018 – had defended his country’s bid even though it was submitted after the deadline of 15 December 2018 set by the FIG, according to multiple sources. When informed of this violation of the regulations, Belgium’s Royal Federation, which was also a candidate, took the case to the CAS.
In late April, the court, which sits in Lausanne, ordered the FIG to invalidate Japan’s candidature because it had arrived after the deadline, according to one of the sources. As a result, the FIG designated Antwerp in early May. However, the decision was not published by the CAS, since the parties asked the court to remain discreet, according to a source.
In August 2018, Mr. Watanabe had announced the creation of an ethics foundation within his federation and declared that the FIG aimed to become “a model in terms of governance and compliance in the world of sport”.
The 2023 world championships are of great importance, coming one year before the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Antwerp, the hometown of FIG founder Nicolaas Cupérus, had hosted the first world gymnastics championships in 1903.
Watanabe, who succeeded Bruno Grandi of Italy, won the race for the FIG presidency in October 2016 by beating Frenchman Georges Guelzec.
Meanwhile, he was elected this week to the executive committee of the influential Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, at its meeting in Gold Coast, Australia.