A punch in the stomach

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Silences are not all the same. There are silences that are good for you: the silence that you hear on top of a mountain, the silence that is able to wrap you on a deserted beach, the silence that says it all when you look into the eyes of the person you love. There are silences that hurt, like the one that reigned in the pool of the Bella Italia Village in Lignano last week.

It should have been a different week: waiting, prepared, wanted, chased. A week of races and champions, of records and emotions, of victories and stories. An intense week, of skipped lunches and lost hours of sleep, of fear that something would go wrong and pure joy in seeing that everything had gone well. Instead, the avalanche of the Coronavirus that is sweeping across Italy has stopped everything, canceling the World Series of para swimming when athletes from all over the world had now arrived in Lignano.

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Photo © Pietro Rizzato 2019 / WPS ITA / FINP

A punch in the stomach for everyone. A punch in the stomach for those who had organized and prepared these World Series to perfection with a job started months ago: “Many – says COL president Francesco Bettella – have worked hard for all these months: because everything was perfect, because everything it was fine. First of all, let me thank each one, without distinction, with a special thanks to the drivers who in the days of the emergency were called to work overtime”.

How complicated was it to manage the two days of emergency?
Between Saturday and Sunday 300 people arrived in Lignano: between Sunday night and Tuesday all had already left. This is thanks to an incredible job by everyone, who managed logistics and organization.

How bad was it to accept this reality?
Very. The news of the cancellation was difficult to digest and accept: everyone worked a lot, trying to add something to what had been done in the past years and working on what had been the critical issues. Really, it was bad to swallow.

What was the most complicated part?
We found ourselves in an unexpected situation, an emergency that no one had foreseen. We also managed the psychological complexities of people who came from abroad who panicked in front of a reality that in the absence of certain news was frightening.

And now?
Now the situation at national level is very complicated: talking about the future is complicated, just as it is impossible to hypothesize postponements or recoveries of the event. All the organizers of each type of event are stopped to wait for the emergency to come back and understand what will happen.

Who would you like to thank?
All. From the COL members to the last of the volunteers, passing through the athletes and those who were somehow involved in this event and suffered from cancellation. Everyone worked to do their part and found themselves doing much more.

Can the damage that this cancellation has involved be quantified?
The costs incurred were significant, and all were made before the event and its cancellation. We have to do the math, manage the issue of expenses and reimbursements, look around and understand. However, the damage was not only economic: there is also sports damage that should not be underestimated. The classifications were foreseen, the Lignano races would have been a fundamental moment for the national team coaches in view of the European and Paralympic games: it’s a problem.

And now?
And now, once the adrenaline is over, the sorrow remains: a sorrow that is great and shared, and that none of us thought we should feel. The sorrow remains, and will remain for a long time …

Francesco Caielli

Categories: wpsitaly_2020

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