Camera boat nearly runs over swimmers with outboard motor in bizarre false start at Olympics triathlon

·2 min read

The Olympics men's triathlon got off to a bizarre false start in Tokyo on Monday. It could have been a whole lot worse.

When the starting buzzer signaled athletes to dive into Tokyo Bay for the swimming leg of the competition, a nearby camera boat blocked access for about half the field. The athletes who weren't blocked dove in while the rest of the competitors watched helplessly from the dock. 

But the athletes weren't the only ones on the move. The boat was in reverse as the athletes dove in. A handful of competitors dove in behind the boat, which precariously approached them with its outboard motor churning.

Fortunately, the boat turned out of the way, and the athletes escaped without injury. 

Some athletes kept swimming, rounded up by jet skis

The result of the incident was the first false start to a triathlon in Olympics history. Some of the competitors didn't hear the false start buzzer and kept swimming. A pair of jet skis and boats eventually rounded them up after they swam for about 200 meters — a less than ideal expenditure of energy before starting a grueling competition in sweltering conditions.

But given the alternative, the false start was far from the worst possible outcome. 

Athletes dive into the water for the start of the men's individual triathlon at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Olympic triathletes needed a second start after a bizarre boat mishap on Monday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Who's to blame for false start mishap?

The triathlon eventually got underway about 10 minutes later, this time sans motorboat interference. Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt secured gold ahead of Great Britain's Alex Yee (silver) and New Zealand's Wilde Hayden (bronze).

As for who's to blame for the bizarre start, that's not quite clear. A boat obviously shouldn't have been running with swimmers in the water. But why was the start signal sounded to begin with with the boat blocking half the field?

Heat wave hits Tokyo Olympics slideshow embed
Heat wave hits Tokyo Olympics slideshow embed

More from Yahoo Sports: