A video recently emerged on social media, capturing a moment from a GymSTART event held by Gymnastics Ireland in March 2022. The video is gaining significant attention online as it appears to show an official skipping over a young black gymnast during the medal distribution ceremony, sparking justified outrage online. The incident has prompted Gymnastics Ireland to release an official statement addressing the matter.
The video (which you can watch below) showcases an incident where a young black gymnast was overlooked during a medal ceremony at the GymSTART event last year. The official, responsible for handing out medals, walked past her, inadvertently omitting her from the line-up. A commentator online said, "She literally looked at her and walked right past her. She even walks away with the "extra medal" at the end! That's just disgraceful! Poor kid."
This is heartbreaking, everyone got a medal apart from the Black girl and she kept smiling. pic.twitter.com/rnqWvoVMAF
— Mukhtar (@I_amMukhtar) September 22, 2023
Following the virality of the video, Gymnastics Ireland released a detailed statement, commenting on the incident and the actions taken since the complaint was raised by the gymnast's parents. According to Gymanstics Ireland, parties engaged in a mediation process facilitated by Sports Disputes Solutions Ireland, resulting in a resolution mutually agreed upon in August 2023.
The complaint lodged alleged racist conduct on the part of the official. Gymnastics Ireland responded by swiftly investigating the matter and reaching out to the family, expressing concern and assuring them that the incident was under investigation. The identified official admitted fault, asserting that the omission was unintentional. They promptly corrected the oversight, ensuring the young gymnast received her well-deserved medal before leaving the Field of Play.
Expressing deep regret for the incident, the official characterized it as an honest mistake. Despite an initially declined request for an apology, a written apology was eventually extended to the gymnast and her family. Throughout the ordeal, Gymnastics Ireland remained engaged with various parties, including Sport Ireland and the International Gymnastics Federation, as well as media outlets.
The incident has sparked a wave of concern and anger online, with many expressing their dismay over what they perceive as a clear instance of racial discrimination. The video has been widely shared and commented upon, amplifying the urgency for addressing issues of racial equality and inclusivity within sports events and organizations.
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We are aware of a video that has been posted on social media relating to an incident that took place over 18 months ago at a GymSTART event in March 2022 for which we received a complaint from the parents of one of our members. Subsequently both parties agreed to enter mediation which was independently facilitated by Sports Disputes Solutions Ireland as per our policy/procedure which led to a resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023.
The complaint alleged racist behaviour by one of our officials at the event. On receipt of the email, as per our policy and standard practice in relation to complaints, we investigated the matter. Gymnastics Ireland immediately contacted the family to express concern and reassure them that the matter was being investigated.
We identified the official concerned and informed the individual in question of the complaint. The official in question accepted fully that what had happened had not been acceptable but stressed that it had not been intentional. The official concerned said that upon realising the mistake they immediately rectified it and ensured that the competitor concerned was presented with her medal before she left the Field of Play (FoP).
The official also expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest error and requested the opportunity to apologise in person to the competitor and her family. This request was initially declined.
A written apology provided by the identified individual has since been issued to the competitor and her family.
At all times we have remained engaged with various parties re the incident including Sport Ireland and the International Gymnastics Federation in addition to various media outlets as and when they have approached us following being contacted regarding this matter.
Subsequently both parties agreed to enter mediation which was independently facilitated by Sports Disputes Solutions Ireland as per our policy/procedure which led to a resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023.
Gymnastics Ireland Member Safeguarding
At the heart of everything we do in Gymnastics Ireland is the welfare of our 36,000+ members. We have always recognised the duty of care we have for a membership base that starts with young children and is predominately children & teenagers.
We have always been and will continue to be a very inclusive sport with a very diverse community of members covering all races, ages, genders, sexualities and socio-economic groups. Our 'Safeguarding' policies set out clear standards of behaviour we expect not alone from our coaches and gymnasts but also from our clubs, officials, administrators, parents/guardians and those who attend our events.
The well-being and safety of gymnasts is at the heart of everything we do. To that end we interact on a continuous basis with bodies such as Sport Ireland, Tusla, the Gardaí and other state agencies/partners to ensure we are always up to date with best practice in relation to member welfare.
A couple of years ago, the brutal murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day Weekend sparked global outrage. Thousands upon thousands of people took to the streets to protest and show solidarity in support for Black Lives. In Ireland those events triggered an important moment where people are sharing their experiences of racism in this country. Her Sport sat down with Nadia Power, Gina Akpe-Moses and Perry Ogden of Sport Against Racism Ireland to hear about their experiences of racism in Ireland and how we bridge the gap going forward.