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The national board that oversees gymnastics in Ireland has apologized publicly, stating that it is “deeply sorry” after a video of an official slighting a Black athlete during a medal presentation resurfaced online.
Gymnastics Ireland released the statement on Monday, Sept. 25.
“On behalf of the Board and staff of Gymnastics Ireland, we would like to unreservedly apologize to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident at the GymStart event in March 2022,” the statement said. “We are also sorry that what has happened since that date has caused further upset.”
The one-minute, 20-second video shows a group of children standing in a line while a judge places a medal on their neck. However, it appears that the Black child was skipped and didn’t receive the award like everyone else. It happened early last year at the organization’s GymSTART event, where the organization gives gymnasts “regardless of age or ability” the opportunity to participate in the sport.
The video was met with significant pushback online and sparked a conversation about racism in sports.
Prominent athletes such as U.S. Olympic champion Simone Biles chimed in, emphasizing that “there is no room for racism in any sport or at all.” Biles said she sent the girl a video after her parents contacted her. Jordan Chiles called the situation “beyond hurtful.”
In the statement, the organization said it reviewed its policies and is implementing the feedback the organization received from an expert.
“Please know that at all times we have been acting in good faith and with the best of intentions in trying to resolve this very difficult and sensitive matter,” the statement said. “We offered an in-person apology after the incident as we believed this was the best approach. Subsequently we felt mediation was the best way forward. We know now we need to do more.”
It continued: “We would like to make it absolutely clear that Gymnastics Ireland condemns any form of racism whatsoever.”
However, the girl’s family says the organization could’ve done more for the family with an immediate personal apology and by addressing the general deep-rooted systemic issues in the sport.
“After this horrendous incident, who wouldn’t think they should apologize? They have just sent me a letter this evening. It took well over a year, and after millions of people internationally have been disgusted by the incident,” the mother told The Guardian. “It is useless to me because they are not addressing the issues of racism and safety. I would love to hear them say things like, ‘the next black child who comes into gymnastics will be safe.’ There is nothing like that.”