The city council has approved renovation plans for the swimming facilities at the Foro Italico in preparation for the World Swimming Championships to be held in Rome in 2009. The neo-classical Foro Italico, built in Fascist times, has been chosen to host the principal events. Further facilities consisting of Olympic pools with annexed accommodation are planned for construction at Pietralata, Varco San Paolo and Ostia. At the conclusion of the championships, which are scheduled for 18 July to 2 August in two years time, the accommodation buildings will be converted into low-cost hostels, of which there are very few in Rome.
Architectural and environmental watchdog Italia Nostra opposed the construction of facilities on the Ostia seafront but this has been overruled. The organisation also expressed fears that the proposed partial restructuring of the Foro Italico would deface the architectural harmony of the complex. But with little more than two years to go, it is unlikely that there is time to consider alternative plans.
2,500 athletes from 180 countries are expected to participate in the event, as well as 1,000 officials and technical staff and 1,000 journalists.