—- The highlight of our year came in July, with the World Aquatics Championships Fukuoka 2023. Over 17 days of competition, we witnessed some wonderful performances. There were moments of true sportsmanship, and many records were broken.

At the end of the competition, 26 countries had medalled in 75 medal events. Nine swimming world records, four world junior records and 36 continental (area) records were broken. We saw some of the most exciting water polo matches in the history of the World Championships. History was made with the first male champion in artistic swimming.

The divers excelled, providing some of the highest quality and closest contests that I can remember. The open water swimming competition also provided numerous spectacular performances, and no doubt, more world-class action will be on display at the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming Junior World Championships 2024 in Alghero, Italy in September.

My heartfelt thanks go to our friends at the Local Organising Committee, the local authorities, officials, and volunteers for providing such a fantastic opportunity for our athletes to shine. Thank you, Japan.

On behalf of the Bureau, I would like to share my thanks to the World Aquatics headquarters team. By this coming August, we will have delivered three World Aquatics Championships, a World Aquatics Swimming Championships (25M) and the aquatics competitions for five sports during the Olympic Games Paris 2024, all within two years. We could not do this without their hard work and skill.

2023 was also the 10th year of our pioneering World Aquatics Scholarship Programme. Across the year, 122 athletes participated in the programme in swimming, open water swimming and diving, at 69 training centres globally. A further 20 of our athletes benefitted from Artistic Swimming Grants through the programme.

Additionally, new World Aquatics Training Centres were established in two locations; CN Antibes (Antibes, France); Bond University at Robina, a suburb in the city of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. I am looking forward to seeing this programme continue to thrive in the coming year.

At the heart of the World Aquatics community are our Member Federations. Embracing new members, developing new talent, and furthering inclusivity are at the forefront of our agenda. Further demonstrating the universality of our sport, we were happy to welcome the African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe as our 210th Member Federation.

The year saw not just a growth in our community, but also a growth in our sport. The first official international Beach Water Polo tournament was played in the open water of Egypt’s Red Sea at the Soma Bay Marina from 12-15 May. This competition shows our commitment to innovation and development.

Meanwhile, having gained the support of the necessary partners, our Member Federations voted in favour of moving the World Aquatics headquarters to Budapest, Hungary. A foundation will also be established in Lausanne, and Lausanne will remain the home of the World Aquatics Integrity Unit.

Hungary has been a loyal partner of international aquatics for many years, having hosted 25 World Aquatics events since 2013, including the World Aquatics Championships in 2017 and 2022. Moreover, the World Aquatics Championships are scheduled to return to the Hungarian capital in 2027, as well as next year’s World Aquatics Swimming Championships (25m).

While there was much to celebrate in 2023, there is still much more ahead of us. In 2024, we can look forward to several global events at the peak of sporting excellence, including the World Aquatics Championships Doha 2024, followed by the Olympic Games Paris 2024. We can already feel the excitement for these occasions. New champions will be crowned. New fans will discover our sports.

Please allow me to repeat my sincere thanks to every member of the World Aquatics family for your continued commitment to the development of our sports and our athletes. Please also accept my very best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.