Simone Biles, of the United States, waits for her turn to perform during the artistic gymnastics women’s final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gymnastics Ireland has issued an apology after a video of a black girl being passed over for a medal at a ceremony went viral.
The video, which was taken from a Gymstart event in Dublin in March 2022, shows a line of children being awarded medals, but the one black girl pictured did not receive one.
The footage re-emerged in recent days and has been watched by millions on social media, including four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles, who said the incident “broke her heart”.
The US athlete also said that she sent the gymnast a video message after her parents had reached out to her.
“There is no room for racism in any sport or at all,” Biles wrote on social media.
Gymnastics Ireland has now issued an apology to the gymnast involved, and her family, for the upset caused.
It comes after the gymnast’s mother was quoted by the Irish Independent on Sunday as saying they had not yet received an apology and that she had taken the matter to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.
The newspaper also reported that the family believed their daughter was ignored at the ceremony because she was black.
“We are often the only black family at gymnastics events and this has been very hurtful for us,” the mother told the newspaper.
“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.”
“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” the organisation said in a statement.
It said that it appointed an independent expert to review its policies and procedures earlier and a series of recommendations have now been put in place to make sure “this does not ever happen again”.
“We would also like to engage with the gymnast’s family and Sport Against Racism Ireland to listen to any suggestions they have as to how our procedures can be improved in this regard,” Gymnastics Ireland wrote.
It added that the organisation “condemns any form of racism whatsoever”.
As part of Gymnastics Ireland’s investigation into the incident, the official who handed out the medals “expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest error”.
The organisation said it was happy to see the gymnast involved continues to participate in its events.
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