No safety lapses in Ironman 70.3, says Davao City Sports Dev’t Division

DAVAO CITY – Despite the death of a Moro athlete during the swimming course of the Ironman 70.3 triathlon race here, City Sports Development Division head Mikey Aportadera maintained that there were no lapses in the safety measures enforced during the event on Sunday, March 26.

PARTICIPANTS swim off the coast of Davao City during the Alveo Ironman 70.3 triathlon race on Sunday. (Keith Bacongco)

Aportadera said in an information released by the City Information Office that the unfortunate death of 49-year-old Jerry Kasim could have been caused by circumstances beyond the control of the organizers’ security and safety cluster.

He said that emergency responders from the Multi-Agency Coordinating Center (MACC) immediately responded to the incident and had resuscitated the athlete who later expired in the hospital. Kasim, a veteran swimming coach, reportedly died of a heart attack.

Aportadera said that divers and personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard found Kasim and attended to him right away.

Although fatalities and injuries are expected in the world of extreme sports, Aportadera added that the city government of Davao would nevertheless look into the incident, saying that the death of the veteran swimmer and athlete raises questions that must be answered.

Aside from Kasim, Gerald Tayag, 18, a spectator, is in critical condition after sustaining serious injuries when a cyclist crashed into him while picking up a water bottle thrown by another participant on the national highway in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

Aportadera said the City Mayor’s Office has extended assistance to Tayag and is currently monitoring his condition.

Major Eudisan Gultiano, spokesperson for the Police Regional Office 11, said that they have yet to get feedback from organizers on the status of Tayag.

“As a city, we would not want that to happen. Nobody did. For us, we will look into the matter. We want to look at all possible angles so that at least there is clarity as to what really happened,” Aportadera added.

Aportadera said the city government and race organizers extended assistance to the family of Kasim, whose burial was scheduled on Monday according to Islamic custom.

Major Catherine dela Rey, spokesperson of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), said in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio, save for these incidents, the conduct of Ironman 70.3 was generally peaceful.

She said authorities reported zero crime incidents during the race. “We are successful in our implementation of the security measures,” she said.

Dela Rey added that the DCPO has not yet lowered the implementation of strict security measures because they expect the participants to stay and visit the tourist spots in this city after the race.

Nearly 1,700 racers from 49 countries competed in Ironman 70.3.

Portuguese Filipe Azevedo won first place in the professional category. Second and third was Ognjen Stojanovic of Serbia and Tuan Chun Chang, respectively.