Gymnastics Ireland has “unreservedly” apologized to the family of a young female gymnast after a video circulating on social media in recent days shows one of its officials skipping the only black girl in the line when handing out medals.
The incident took place in March, 2022 at the GymStart event.
Gymnastics Ireland (GI) said the young girl received her medal after the event. Gymnastics Ireland said that they had received a complaint from the parents adding that the official had “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."
Welcome to Ireland where people get away with racism! This little black girl broke my heart. Don’t skip this post without leaving a million heart for her. Make her famous… pic.twitter.com/YYMIP1IALZ— Mohamad Safa (@mhdksafa) September 22, 2023
The apparent snub, and the lengthy period of time since the incident devoid of any redress, prompted widespread critical reaction and comment, including from seven-time U.S. Olympic medalist Simone Biles.
Biles said that the incident, which saw the young black gymnast standing without a medal in a line of be-medaled fellow competitors, "broke my heart." The video of the young gymnast not being presented with a medal went viral. It can be see on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP2OhGiVFsk
In its statement GI said: “On behalf of the Board and staff of Gymnastics Ireland we would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident at the GymStart event in March 2022.
“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry. We are also sorry that what has happened since that date has caused further upset.
“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. 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. We are committed to ensuring nothing like this will happen again. We appointed an independent expert to review our policies and procedures earlier this year and a series of recommendations have resulted which we are fully committed to implementing so that this does not ever happen again.”
The statement added that Gymnastics Ireland would also like to engage with the gymnast's family and Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) to “listen to any suggestions they have as to how our procedures can be improved in this regard."
The statement concluded: “We are happy to see that the gymnast continues to participate in Gymnastics Ireland events and we look forward to welcoming her back to our future events also.
"Finally, we would like to make it absolutely clear that Gymnastics Ireland condemns any form of racism whatsoever."