Hundreds of professional divers in Vietnam are now uncertain of their future after the country decided to eliminate diving from next year’s national sports competition.
Over 200 athletes from 20 localities across the Southeast Asian country have been sending countless letters to seek an alternative from the decision for the past two months, but the efforts ended in vain.
The sport was recently announced to be removed from the 2018 national sports competition, a multi-sport event held every four years.
Do Huy Bac, director of a training center in the northern province of Ha Nam, stated he had sent complaints to the Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism (MCST) without receiving any reply so far.
“Diving is our only hope for a medal at the sporting event,” Bac said.
The decision should have been announced in 2014, after the previous season of the event ended, he continued, adding that hundreds of athletes in the country had been training relentlessly in the past three years.
Divers in the north-central provinces of Quang Binh and Thanh Hoa and the northern province of Quang Ninh have had to leave their homes for training in the central city of Da Nang, Nguyen Duy Long, a diving coach in Quang Ninh, said.
Quang Ninh’s team of 18 divers spent about six months on their training in Da Nang every year, Long stated, adding that the province had funded about VND3 billion (US$132,067) per year.
Coaches in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang did not express their disagreements with the decision.
However, they believed that a thorough process was necessary, considering that the late announcement would waste the time, money, and efforts of localities.
According to a probe by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, the 2018 sports event will consist of 35 types of sport.
Diving has been included in the competition for the past seven seasons.
The removal of the sport was not a big surprise as the central government has been planning to turn the national event into a smaller version of the Olympics.
The Vietnam Aquatic Sports Association has requested the MCST to bring back diving to the 2018 competition, affirming that the sudden change would cause losses for many provinces.
Speaking with Tuoi Tre, a representative from the General Debarment of Sports and Physical Training under the MCST said that despite the elimination of diving in the 2018 national sports competition, athletes can still compete at national diving tournaments.
Diving is not included in the Olympics, Asiad, or Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), thus it is not wrong to exclude the sport from the national event, the official elaborated.