Message from the FIG President - All voices matter

Dear All,

In recent weeks, we have witnessed many athletes in parts of Europe and Oceania taking to social media to tell what happened during their journey in Gymnastics. They have spoken out about how their passion for the sport has been damaged to various extents by humiliation, mistreatment and fear of retribution if they complain.

As a man, each story makes me sad.

As President of the FIG, the bravery of these athletes gives me hope.

It means that there is a genuine will for change.

It means that some old, authoritarian methods - however successful they might have been in the past - are not tolerated anymore.

I want to tell the gymnasts who have the courage to speak out that their voices matter.

I want to tell them that it is never too late to get involved and to push for reform, at any level.

When I became President of the FIG in 2017, just months after the Larry Nassar scandal came to light in the United States, I promised to undertake whatever was needed to avoid that such cases of massive sexual abuse could happen again in our sport.

We learnt, from the testimonies of those brave young American women, how a climate of fear was an environment for the perpetration of such crime.

In the wake of this affair, the FIG has established the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to encourage anyone to report any form of rules violation, abuse and harassment, and to provide a safe, confidential mechanism to do so.

The task was not easy, but today the Foundation is fully operational and is investigating several cases.

As well as any form of physical violence clearly being intolerable, insults and threats have no place in any training hall. Whatever is at stake, Gymnastics must remain, above all, a fun sport to practice.

More can be done to draw a clear separation between what is acceptable and what is not. The FIG is working on initiatives to that end. We all know plenty of positive tales in the sport. Those are the ones that need to be shared and replicated.

I invite all of you to consider what could and should be done at your own level. The FIG can provide the impetus; however, we will manage to foster a culture of respect in the sport only if we make the necessary efforts together.

International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Morinari Watanabe

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