- Linh Pham/Getty Images
- The Thai soccer team who were trapped inside a cave decided to allow the boys that live furthest away to be rescued first.
- 25-year-old coach Ekapol Chanthawong said the boys were not chosen based on the state of their health, as had previously been reported.
- Rather the boys that lived furthest away were could ride their bikes home and tell concerned families and authorities that they were okay.
The Thai soccer team who were trapped inside a flooded cave decided to allow the boys that live furthest away to be rescued first.
It had been previously reported Australian doctor-diver Richard Harris had helped decide which boys to take out first, reportedly the weakest or the bravest of the boys. But at a press conference on Wednesday evening, Ekapol said the boys were not chosen based on the state of their health, but rather were chosen based on who lived the furthest away.
According to the boys’ 25-year-old coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, it was the entire team, under the guidance of international divers and the Thai Navy SEALS, who decided which boys to rescue from the cave first.
“I talked with Dr. Harris. Everyone was strong and no one was sick,” he told the press. “Everybody had a strong mental state. Dr. Harris said… there’s no preference.”
Ultimately the team decided those who lived the furthest away were to be extracted first so they could ride their bikes and tell concerned families and authorities that they were okay.
“We were thinking, when we get out of the cave, we would have to ride the bicycle home,” Ekapol said, not realizing at the time their story had garnered global media attention. “So the persons who live the furthest away would be allowed to go out first… so that they can go out and tell everyone that we were inside, we were okay.”
“We put the hopes on them to tell the families we are coming out and prepare food,” Ekapol said.
- Linh Pham/Getty Images
All of the boys and coach Ekapol were rescued after surviving up to 17 days inside the cave. The team had only intended to spend an hour there on June 23, as many of the boys had been before, but became trapped after heavy rains caused the cave’s chambers to quickly flood.
Doctors at Wednesday’s press conference said the boys are “physically and mentally” strong and are eager to return to “normal life.”
“We ask everyone to give them personal space and time to be with their families and go to school,” they said.