FIG New Duty Of Care Initiative: Safeguarding Gymnasts

Safeguarding Gymnasts

The Federation of International Gymnastics is to develop a duty of care code for safeguarding gymnasts and everyone involved in the sport. Their determined commitment means gymnasts will be able to compete safe in the knowledge they perform under an umbrella of prevention, education, reporting, investigation and sanctions.

Both male and females should be able to immerse themselves in the sport free from any form of abuse, sexual harassment or bullying of any kind. This marks a clear move toward ensuring those very high standards already employed are enhanced further within the gymnastics world.

Making Gymnastics Safer

FIG President Morinari Watanabe has wasted no time since taking over in January, organising a working group charged with reviewing existing rules of the federation with the aim of re-enforcing them.

The group includes Slava Corn, Jane Allen and Steve Butcher, who held their first meeting in Lausanne between May 31 and June 1, starting from the premise ‘everyone in sport has the responsibility to develop a culture of dignity and safety.’

The group has based its work notably on the strong recommendations of the international federations of the IOC’s Agenda 2020, providing a framework outlining the key components required for the quality care of athletes. A solid duty of care code has since emerged utilising a series of supporting procedures intended to serve as an acceptable standard when both adopting and protecting policies.

Mr Watanable said: “As FIG President, I declare we will not tolerate abuse or sexual harassment in the gymnastics community. We observe the rules because we are educated to do so. But rules cannot be observed only through education and legislation. Severe sanctions are needed. The same level of severe measures as anti-doping is necessary for eradicating harassment.”

Developing Positive Methods of Safeguarding Gymnasts

In any sport of course, where coaches are working so closely with athletes – where there’s regular travelling involved, and where there are close working relationships involved, it’s vital to protect everyone. The group have since insisted, it will be the responsibility of each member federation to ensure the implementation of such policies is carried out professionally and with due care and attention.

As the governing body of one of the world’s leading Olympic sports, the FIG fully endorses these principles and is committed to strengthening the support offered to all its members. In truth, the safety, well-being and welfare of gymnasts across the world must be at the epicentre of everything the FIG does. Both now and in the future.

It was emphasised, everyone in the sport has a responsibility to both recognise and prevent misconduct, harassment and any form of abuse at the source. The FIG will also develop educational material and provide opportunities to share case studies of best practice to further assist its member federations.

This hard working group also recommends the establishment of an Ethics and Welfare Unit within the Federation’s headquarters in Switzerland. They will collaborate with other FIG bodies and their activities in the process of delivering a duty of care to other members.

Slava Corn. FIG Honorary Vice President of the group told the media: “Our member federations, in particular, must demonstrate strong leadership by identifying and eradicating unacceptable practices and implementing preventative programs.”

The Ethics and Welfare Unit will work closely with the FIG Academy programme for coaches to develop and enhance educational resources and examples of best practice when it comes to safeguarding gymnasts.

This will encompass FIG courses, World Championships, events and congresses. The whole project ensures the sport consolidates itself around leading principles as the 21st century gathers pace.

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