Gymnastics Ireland has issued a public apology after a video of one of its officials snubbing a black girl during a medal ceremony in 2022 went viral, sparking international outrage.
In March 2022, a video showed a judge ignoring the only Black girl in a line of young gymnasts during a medal ceremony at an event in Dublin.
The video recently went viral, gaining more than 50 million views on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Following the backlash, Gymnastics Ireland issued a statement on Friday Sep. 22 saying that it had received a complaint about the incident at the time and entered mediations with the family.
It said that it launched an investigation immediately after receiving the complaint, and the official “accepted fully that what had happened had not been acceptable but stressed that it had not been intentional”.
It said that the official realized their mistake and ensured the girl was presented with her medal before she left.
It added that the girl’s family – who have chosen to remain anonymous out of fear of racist abuse – had declined a request for an in-person apology from the official, adding that the official sent a written apology instead.
The statement said the two parties reached a resolution in August 2023. But the girl’s mother told the The Irish Independent the complaint had not been settled and they believe Gymnastics Ireland was covering for the official.
She said that the written apology they received was not genuine as it was addressed to “to whom it concerns”.
The mother said that she had taken the matter to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland. “We are often the only Black family at gymnastics events and this has been very hurtful for us,” she said.
“Now eight million people have seen the video. From Pakistan to Ethiopia they can see this was wrong but Gymnastics Ireland still can’t accept it and say sorry.”
The incident has been widely condemned, with four time US Olympic Champion Simone Biles, who is also Black, showing her support for the Black girl, saying on X that it “broke my heart to see.”
Biles said that the girl’s family had reached out to her following the incident and that she had sent the girl a personal video message of support at the time.
“I wanted to let you know that I saw how you were treated at your GymStart event recently.
I was completely shocked and wanted to let you know that you deserve a medal just like all of the other girls,” Biles said in the video, according to the Irish Independent.
“I know you’ve worked incredibly hard at the sport and I wanted to say I am rooting for you from here.
Sending you my very best and know that there are so many of us here to support you.” “There is no room for racism in any sport or at all,” Biles wrote on X.
On Monday Sep. 25, Gymnastics Ireland issued a public apology, saying “What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” it said.
“We know now we need to do more. We are committed to ensuring nothing like this will happen again,”
it said, adding that it had appointed an independent expert to review its policies and procedures earlier this year.
The statement added that it wanted to “make it absolutely clear that Gymnastics Ireland condemns any form of racism whatsoever.”