Stampede at Indian Ocean Island Games Opening Ceremony Claims 12 Lives

The swimming portion of the 2023 Indian Ocean Island Games was tragically overshadowed by a deadly stampede during the opening ceremony that took 12 lives and left more than 80 people injured last Friday in Madagascar.

Organizers of the multi-sport event went ahead with the opening ceremony at Mahamasina Stadium in Antananarivo with president Andry Rajoelina observing a moment of silence. It’s not the first time that the site has seen deadly stampedes as one occurred in 2018 (one death, 37 injuries) and another in 2019 (15 deaths).

Comoros is slated to host the 2027 Indian Ocean Island Games while the Maldives will host the 2031 edition. The Maldives were initially expected to host this year.

In the pool, Reunion (population: 859,959) dominated with 26 gold medals out of 40 total events, including a complete sweep of the relays.

Reunion’s Alizee Morel, 28, led all swimmers with five individual victories in the 50 free (26.36), 100 free (56.53), 200 free (2:07.18), 400 free (4:34.70), 800 free (9:41.15). Her sister, Emma Morel, also put together an impressive performance with wins in the 50 back (29.77), 100 back (1:04.54), 50 fly (27.51), and 100 fly (1:02.17). Another standout performer on the women’s side was Ruth Tessa Ip Hen Cheung, a Mauritian who racked up victories in the 50 breast (34.00), 100 breast (1:12.80), and 200 breast (2:45.52).

On the men’s side, four different swimmers picked up three individual victories apiece. Reunion’s Mael Dijoux led the way in the 200 free (1:55.97), 400 free (4:08.73), and 1500 free (16:50.18). Madagascar’s Jonathan Raharvel pulled off a breaststroke sweep with wins in the 50 breast (29.07), 100 breast (1:03.53), and 200 breast (2:22.21). Seychelles’ Simon Bachmann secured 1st-place finishes in the 200 fly (2:04.91), 200 IM (2:10.00), 400 IM (4:41.44). Reunion’s Pierre-Yves Desprez swept the backstroke events with victories in the 50 back (27.02), 100 back (59.14), and 200 back (2:13.47).

Check out the full medal table below:

2023 Indian Ocean Island Games Swimming Medal Table

Ranking Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Reunion 1 26 11 10 47
Mauritius 2 7 18 11 36
Seychelles 3 4 11 11 26
Madagascar 4 3 1 7 11


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3 months ago

I have to assume the event wasn’t ticketed? So the first 41,000 get in? I haven’t been able to locate any articles with details about why/how this happened.

Grimes Reaper
3 months ago

That sucks almost as much as the winning times.

3 months ago

Only gets weirder:
“ The president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, told the crowd in the stadium on Friday night: “An unfortunate event happened. There was a stampede at the entrance.
“There were a lot of injuries. We will observe a few seconds of silence because compatriots have died when they wanted to enter.”
After the silence, the ceremony continued with a laser show and fireworks.”

3 months ago

Did I read this right? They observed a moment of silence right after the stampede? At the very same event?

3 months ago

3 separate incidences of death within 5 years at a sporting event???

Fukuoka Gold
3 months ago

It’s ironic isn’t it.

A friendly sports games attended by 4 small countries in idyllic Indian Ocean.

3 months ago

uuhhhhh wtf? what caused the stampede?

Reply to  Random123
3 months ago

Cattle?? Buffaloes? Horses? Elephants? Rhinos?


3 months ago

>It’s not the first time that the site has seen deadly stampedes as one occurred in 2018 (one death, 37 injuries) and another in 2019 (15 deaths).
Almost 30 deaths in 5 years. Maybe hold events somewhere else?

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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