TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Japanese diving association along with athletes from 10 countries have called for their national flags to be removed from the rankings in support of their Taiwanese counterparts after the Taiwanese flag was suddenly banned at the end of the competition.
Five Taiwanese freedivers participated in the 27th AIDA Depth World Championship, held in Limassol, Cyprus from September 20 to 30 with 150 athletes from 40 countries. However, on Tuesday, September 28, the event’s organizer, the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA), suddenly removed the Taiwanese flag from the leader board when it was broadcast live without warning.
Taiwanese diver Mia Hou (侯一明) quickly found herself the only one of 44 competitors that day to have left their nationality blank. AIDA International President Alexandru Russu apologized to the Taiwan team for the sudden change, explaining that the decision was taken after the live streaming in China was blocked and said he did not there was no plan to restore the flag.
The Taiwanese flag suddenly disappears and Hou moves up the rankings. (YouTube, AIDA Freediving screenshot)
The team was left with two options: either opt for the Chinese Taipei banner used in the Olympic events, or leave the flag blank. The team decided to go with the latter.
AIDA Japan then posted a message on Facebook asking event organizers to remove the Japanese flag from the live YouTube stream as well. The Japanese organization wrote that since AIDA International was unable to resolve the problem, “this is the only small resistance we can make against the horrible political interference.”
The group said it could not ignore the fact that “only Taiwan is disadvantaged.” AIDA Japan expressed the wish to “share the pain with Taiwan” and pledged to “not let politics interfere in our sport”.
Subsequently, athletes from Russia, the United States, Croatia, the Netherlands, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany and Slovenia also requested that their flags be removed to show their solidarity with their Taiwanese competitors. In response, Hou posted a Facebook post on Thursday, September 30, thanking the many countries for their support.
Hou proudly showing the Taiwan flag during the competition. (YouTube, AIDA Freediving screenshot)
According to an official AIDA statement posted on Facebook on Wednesday (September 29th), the Taiwanese flag was “changed” after the live broadcast in China was blocked, halting the broadcast of live scores to “more than 400,000 viewers.” The organization said there was “no ideal solution,” thanked the Taiwanese team for being “very kind and understanding,” and denied that there was “external pressure” in the organization. decision making.
On September 30, AIDA issued a terse apology to Taiwan on its website for the incident. He claimed that the cessation of the flow by the Chinese authorities “took us by surprise” and claimed that his staff were “not ready to deal with it in such a short time”.
The organization promised that “we will learn from our mistakes” and suggested that it will launch different feeds in the future to prevent the problem from happening again. He added that he would also discuss the issue and the ground issues at the next assembly video conference and expressed hope that he could “put this incident behind us.”
However, AIDA Taiwan posted a formal protest on its Facebook page on Thursday condemning the organizer for not discussing or informing the change, the “reckless” method of dealing with Chinese censorship, and warned it was setting a bad precedent that could lead to the ban of flags of other countries. He then urged the group’s leaders to reveal their decision-making process, pass a binding resolution to prevent such actions in the future, and issue a formal apology to AIDA Taiwan and the Taiwanese athletes.
Statement issued by AIDA Japan. (screenshot facebook.com/groups/aida.freediving)