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Vertical Blue 2022: Athletes Give Up Country Flags To Dive Under One Ocean

DeeperBlue.com - Vertical Blue 2022 Coverage Hero
DeeperBlue.com - Vertical Blue 2022 Coverage

Due to modern geo-political events, there have been several incidents in recent competitions where athletes have had the country flags they dive under changed.

Issues started with the decision of organizers to remove Taiwanese athletes’ country flags during the 2021 AIDA World Depth Championships, held in Cyprus, due to complaints from Chinese authorities.  With the current war in Ukraine, AIDA was also considering banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in competitions governed by AIDA rules, such as Vertical Blue.

With all the uncertainty and political complexity in the current climate, Vertical Blue organizers have arranged for a One Ocean flag to be displayed all over Deans Blue Hole.

According to sources close to the event, this is “to illustrate a unified community and demonstrate that we all stand together as freedivers in support of one another, regardless of geo-political dynamics and/or bad actors who unfortunately hold positions of power in various governments.”

Vertical Blue Check-in and Welcome Meeting

Twenty athletes at Vertical Blue have also voluntarily given up their country flags to “stand in solidarity with countries that have been put in an untenable situation.”

We have confirmed that the 20 athletes are:

  1. Fatima Korok (Hungary)
  2. Mateusz “Matt” Malina (Poland)
  3. Ben Zyons (USA)
  4. John Aristizabal (Colombia)
  5. William Trubridge (New Zealand)
  6. Simon Bennett (Chile)
  7. MingChung Huang (Taiwan)
  8. Jung A Kim (Korea)
  9. Sheena McNally (Canada)
  10. Camila Jaber (Mexico)
  11. Jani Valdivia (Peru)
  12. Stefan Randig (Germany)
  13. Yu-Chieh “Jay” Ku (Taiwan)
  14. Gary McGrath (Great Britain)
  15. Junko Kitihama (Japan)
  16. Misuzu Okamoto (Japan)
  17. Yasuko Ozeki (Japan)
  18. Hanako Hirose (Japan)
  19. Hiraku Chinomi (Japan)
  20. Claire Paris (USA)

This means the athletes will not have their country flag showing in results, in the diveye live stream, or replays.  It will be replaced with the One Ocean Flag below.

One Ocean Flag to be shown at Vertical Blue 2022

Vertical Blue 2022 Coverage

If you want to find out the highlights and details from every day of the competition, then check back with DeeperBlue.com as our team provides daily updates and wrap up’s throughout the competition. You should also keep an eye out on our socials for highlights from the competition.

We’ve covered every year of the competition since 2008, so you can check out this year’s coverage and all previous years in our Vertical Blue archive.

Vertical Blue is always an exciting event to watch, so stay tuned to DeeperBlue.com and our social media feeds for updates, and sign up for the live feed from Diveye on the Vertical Blue website to watch in real-time.