MD2474 2019 World Para Swimming Championships

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
27 August 2019
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

This decision form seeks approval to spend up to £200,000, from the Major Sports Events Budget as a contribution toward British Swimming’s costs of delivering the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, to be hosted at the London Aquatics Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in September 2019.


That the Mayor approves:

Expenditure of up to £200,000, by way of grant funding to British Swimming, as a contribution towards its costs of staging the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships events.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background


The success of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has cemented London’s position as a world-leading host of major sporting events. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has also added significantly to the range of world class sporting facilities available for hosting events in London. A key part of the on-going legacy of London 2012 is ensuring that these facilities and others around London are put to good use and act as an important sporting showcase for London.

London has secured a portfolio of events since the Games that will help sustain our position as a world-leading host and is in keeping with the stated legacy aims from London 2012, one of which is to ensure that the facilities built for the Games continue to be used to stage high-level international sporting events. They include the 2015 Rugby World Cup, 2016 European Swimming Championships, 2016 Track Cycling World Championships, 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships, 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup, 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, 2020 UEFA EURO, 2021 UEFA Women’s EURO.

Recognising that most major sporting events require some level of public support, the GLA allocated £2.4 million over four years to future major sporting events as part of the 2014/15 budget setting process. This Major Sports Events Budget supports the GLA’s major sporting events strategy for London, ‘London: Home of World Class Sport’, which was published in April 2014 and is a key element of the Mayor’s Sports, ‘Sport for All of Us’ strategy. An additional £1 million was allocated to the programme as part of the 2016/17 GLA budget setting process.

The London-wide approach to bidding for and supporting major sporting events has established the GLA as the first point of call for anyone looking to bring their event to London, and firmly establishes the GLA as London’s strategic lead for major sporting events.

The Event

The World Para Swimming Championships is a biennial event organised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The first event took place in 1990 and has only once taken place in the UK, in Glasgow in 2015.

The event is a top priority for British Swimming and for the GB Paralympic Team. Hosting the event in London at the London Aquatics Centre will bring a number of benefits to the GB Para-Swimming team.

The 2019 event will be one of the final qualification opportunities for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020 and is likely to receive domestic and international interest and coverage as a result. Channel 4 has been appointed as the domestic broadcaster of the event and is set to devote extensive coverage to the event, both in the build-up and during the event itself.

The 2019 event was originally awarded to Malaysia, but in January 2019 the IPC decided to strip Malaysia of their hosting rights due to a change in political leaders and that the country was not able to confirm the necessary guarantees that Israeli athletes would be able to take part in the championships. Following negotiations between the GLA, British Swimming, UK Sport and the IPC, agreement was reached to host the event in London in September 2019.

Since London was announced as the new host of the event, a larger than anticipated number of athletes have entered the Championships. London will welcome over 700 athletes from 80 countries, making the Championships the largest World Para Swimming Championship to date.

Historically, Paralympic events have scored low when assessed against the GLA Major Sports Events criteria, which scores events based on their economic impact to the city, international broadcast reach and community engagement opportunities. However, when the World Para Swimming Championships were held in Glasgow in 2015, Channel 4 were the host broadcaster and had an average audience of 68,000 viewers on the opening weekend. Coverage was also shown in Spain, Germany, Japan and the USA.

In addition to the GLA helping the IPC bring the event to London after the event had been stripped from Malaysia, the GLA negotiated for ticket prices for the event to be capped at £1 for day sessions, £5 for evening sessions and for school groups to attend the event free of charge. This offers a significant boost to the event’s community engagement appeal and will lead to the event being one of the most accessible world championships ever hosted in the UK.

After the decision in January 2019 to remove the Championships from Malaysia, British Swimming approached the GLA to request a funding contribution towards the hosting the of 2019 IPC World Championships as they were projecting a funding deficit. The total estimated costs of delivering the event is £1,300,000. Following negotiations with UK Sport, British Swimming and the IPC, the GLA’s contribution will be capped at £200,000.

The GLA proposes that it provides a package of support to the event organiser (British Swimming) including a financial contribution towards event staging costs, event governance and management support, and support with social and digital communications.

UK Sport has agreed to contribute up to the value of £500,000. The remaining event costs are to be met through income generated by ticket sales, accommodation commission and international federation funding. The IPC has agreed to underwrite the event budget in full.

GLA officers have reviewed British Swimming’s event budget which contains details of revenue targets and are confident that they are achievable. Revenue targets are reviewed on a monthly basis by the event Steering Group, which the GLA Major Sports Events team is a member of.

To safeguard the GLA’s investment, we will closely monitor the budget and event planning through the event Steering Group and conduct regular reviews of progress against the objectives in the funding agreement.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The objectives of the proposed expenditure are to:

• support delivery of the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, encouraging British Swimming to offer a strong community engagement programme;
• support delivery of the Mayor’s sports strategy and the GLA’s major sports events strategy, ‘London: Home of World Class Sport’; which is to:

o increase economic investment into London;
o increase international exposure of London; and
o increase opportunities for Londoners to engage with major sports events through opportunities to attend, volunteer at, gain qualifications from, and participate in community sport activity that is linked to, the event.

• Increase the visibility of elite para-sport and reaffirm that London is the home of both Olympic and Paralympic sport.

The GLA Major Sports Events team will support the achievement of the above objectives by:

• maintaining a close working relationship with British Swimming;
• attending regular Marketing and PR meetings with British Swimming;
• attending regular event steering group meetings; and
• working closely with British Swimming and London & Partners to promote the event both domestically and internationally.

Equality comments

Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have ‘due regard’ of the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The GLA Major Sports Events Team has consulted with event partners to ensure that as many Londoners as possible, including those with protected characteristics (as defined in the Equality Act 2010), are considered in the planning of the event and have the chance to be involved in some way, be that through playing, training, volunteering or supporting teams.

The GLA has worked with London Legacy Development Corporation and Greenwich Leisure Limited (the operator of the London Aquatics Centre) to ensure that the Aquatics Centre is an accessible venue, with a relevant and effective strategy. Appropriate assistance to all Londoners and visitors will be available at the events.

Other considerations




Likelihood/ Impact

Response & Mitigation


The event does not deliver against London’s key strategic objectives.

Low/ Low

The evaluation process undertaken to determine city support for events is robust and thorough.


The GLA will attend regular steering groups to ensure that the event is meeting the agreed objectives. The meetings will cover marketing, operations, ticket sales and communications.



Ticket sales for the events are lower than predicted, thereby exposing the Mayor/ GLA to reputational risk.

Medium / Medium 

The GLA Mayor Sports Events team will work closely with the British Swimming Marketing Manager to help shape the marketing campaign.


The GLA will ensure that ticket prices are kept low, giving people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend the event the chance to do so.


The GLA Major Sports Events team has experience of dealing with seat filling programmes and stand ready to implement a plan if required.



British Swimming’s capacity to deliver the Championship.

Medium/ High

British Swimming has a large calendar of events taking place in 2019, both at international and domestic level, including the FINA Diving World Series which the GLA is supporting.


British Swimming has recognised that its capacity to deliver the event is limited and has proposed a resourcing model which includes the recruitment of additional personnel to lead the event. This will be monitored by the stakeholder board, of which the GLA is a member.



Financial comments

The proposed grant funding of up to £200,000 to ‘British Swimming’ as contribution towards the delivery of the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, will be funded from the 2019-20 Major Sport Events Programme budget, held within the Team London and Sport Unit.

Activity table



MD Approved

August 2019

Funding agreement executed between GLA and British Swimming

August 2019


September 2019

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