By Nick Butler

Gabon is one of three nations to have approved as a FINA member ©Getty ImagesGabon, St Maarten and Belize have all been approved as members of the International Swimming Association (FINA) following a Bureau meeting in Doha.

The trio will bring the total number of FINA members to 207, three more than the 204 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Recognition for St Maarten, the Dutch constituent which was a former member of the Netherlands Antilles before the country dissolved in 2010, is particularly interesting because athletes from the island have had to since compete for either The Netherlands or Aruba.

But FINA's decision could pave the way for similar moves from other international federations, with St Maarten also among islands to have benefited from the recent decision to allow non-IOC recognised territories to compete at the Central American and Caribbean Games.

The meeting in Doha, which comes at the beginning of a key period for the sport ahead of the World Shortcourse Championships in the Qatari capital starting on Wednesday (December 3), also confirmed the appointment of Uganda's Donald Rukare as an African representative on the FINA Bureau.

Rukare is also President of the Uganda Swimming Federation, vice-president of the African Swimming Federation and secretary general of the Uganda Olympic Committee.

He replaces Angola's Lino Lourenço, the 46-year-old who died suddenly in Luanda in April.

Donald Rukare has been appointed a FINA Bureau member ©Donald RukareDonald Rukare has been appointed a FINA Bureau member ©Donald Rukare

France's Virginie Dedieu, a synchronised swimming duet bronze medal winner at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, was also added to the FINA Athletes Committee, while the competition programme for the 2015 FINA/Mastbank World Cup was finalised.

An eighth French leg of the circuit - in either Paris or Chartres - was added to a series which will also consist of stops in Moscow, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Doha and Dubai.

Reports were also heard from the Organising Committees of the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan, the 13th FINA World Shortcourse Swimming Championships in Windsor, Canada in 2016, as well as the Olympic Games in Rio in the same year.

For these three events, an update on venues, the programme and accommodation and transportation was provided, with the Bureau registering "satisfaction" with the "excellent status of preparations" for all three.

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