Marco Cosentino, AIDA Head of Safety, has released a statement regarding the organization of the 2019 AIDA Depth World Championships in Nice, France.
The full statement is below:
“It is very difficult to find the words to describe my state of mind after the show we saw during this world championship. I believe that the images and the tone of the posts that have been shared on social media from some prominent freedivers express at best what the general result of these championships is: an enormous loss of image for the sport and above all a lack of respect suffered by all the Athletes who train and are committed to the growth of competitive apnea, paying from their own pockets to participate to events like this. Can we talk about any success if even the president of AIDA international, a crystalline person and definitely a beacon in this stormy ocean, is forced to share a post online in which she denounces blackmailing, manipulation, and threats? Well, I would say no, I would say that we have reached a point of no return.
But let’s start from the very beginning. Unfortunately, for this competition the AIDA Medical Team and AIDA Safety Team weren’t allowed by the organizers to be involved nor in preparation, neither in the organization of the medical and safety procedures. All medical issues have been managed by a local medical team and all safety issues and safety procedures have been managed with the “standards” defined by the organizer.
In fact, both me and my colleague Oleg Melikov we have requested the organizer to share knowledge and acquire info about the medical and safety procedures that would have been used to manage athletes’ safety in this event. Well, our requests received a sharp response and, in some ways, even justified: ” I recall that AIDA and judges are not responsible for the safety, the organizer yes. We have our safety procedure and AIDA can’t impose to an organize it”s rules as AIDA is not responsible for the safety. AIDA can only suggest or recommend things”
Yes, in my opinion, justified, because today the AIDA regulations require that all aspects related to the safety and logistics of an event, even the World Championship, are managed independently by the event organizer.
This means that (1) AIDA cannot exercise any kind of control over the quality of the service that will be offered and (2) the event organizer is not bound to the use of protocols or standards approved and managed by AIDA.
This is the first critical aspect that we should focus on and on which we should work for the future competitions: shared safety standards to be adopted by all event organizers who intend to hold international competitions under the aegis of AIDA. If the image is AIDA’s, it is right that AIDA exercises control over these critical aspects. In fact, safety shall be the primary objective for an event organizer and for competitive freediving in general. The global image of our sport is proportional to the safety management quality we are able to provide during these important events. I will not go into the merits of how safety was managed in this event: everyone has the opportunity to review the images on the AIDA youtube channel and get their own idea. I will just say that my current role in AIDA requires me to prepare and send to the AIDA board a report as detailed as possible in order to discuss it in the most appropriate locations. But I underline what I have already shared in a post on the AIDA international page that contains all my emotions with respect to the way in which the hypertrophied ego of some subjects can condition (negatively) the image of a sport and above all the image of a professional figure, that of the Safety Freediver, which should be synonymous with honor and pride. I repeat and conclude by emphasizing that Safety should be the invisible angels, Safety should protect and support the Athletes, Safety should be the point of reference for judges and Athletes. Safety should remain impartial and focused only on his job, even if it is a tough job somedays with a lot of Blackouts (BO) and incidents. If we lose sight of this goal, if we start looking for our own personal glory and self-assertion, if we start putting ourselves in the center of the picture using childish threats, then the essence of the role of safety has been lost and the damage to the sport is almost irreparable. Safety must be at the service of sport and athletes. If we want to see the growth of this sport to the highest levels we must rely on Safety Professionals who are motivated to preserve, protect and exalt the image of the sport.”