Gymnastics Ireland has been embroiled in a racism row after a shocking video showed a young black competitor being passed over during a medal ceremony while her white peers were each presented with an award.
Olympic champion Simone Biles condemned the “heartbreaking” incident and said she sent a video of support to the young girl after her parents reached out.
The Team USA gymnast was among scores online who condemned the referee’s actions, writing on X: “There is no room for racism in any sport!!!!”
The video shows a line of young gymnasts waiting for their prize, while the little girl waits excitedly for her medal before being overlooked.
Gymnastics Ireland has now apologized for the incident after the girl’s parents claimed the insult was due to racism.
The little girl shuffles forward excitedly, expecting to be presented with the medal, before the referee moves on to the next gymnast in the lineup.
The video shows a line of young gymnasts waiting for their prize, with the little girl excitedly waiting for her medal as her peers receive theirs.
Olympic champion Simone Biles condemned the ‘heartbreaking’ incident and said she had sent a video of support to the young girl
The sports body said it ‘immediately contacted’ the participant’s parents following their complaint about the incident.
The girl’s mother said the family was ‘very upset’ at the way their daughter was treated by Gymnastics Ireland and they believe she was ignored because she is black. Irish independent reports.
Many have pointed out that at the end of the clip, the official walked away with the last remaining medal, with all the children in the lineup receiving one except the girl.
Gymnastics Ireland said it had contacted the woman, who is now no longer a member of the sports body after choosing not to renew her membership.
They said she “fully accepted that what had happened was not acceptable, but emphasized that it had not been intentional.”
‘The official in question said that when they realized the error, they immediately corrected it and ensured that the participant in question was presented with her medal before leaving the field of play (FoP).
“The official also expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest mistake and requested the opportunity to personally apologize to the competitor and her family. This request was initially rejected.
“A written apology has since been issued from the identified individual to the competitor and her family.”
The statement continued: “We initially attempted to address the issue through the informal process of our discipline and complaints policy.
‘However, after a series of discussions with the parents, they informed Gymnastics Ireland that they would not be taking part in the process and were seeking legal advice.’
Biles made history by becoming the first black woman to win the all-around title in 2013
Images of the presentation in Dublin in March 2022 have now gone viral online.
Gymnastics Ireland was contacted last summer by the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF), which said it had been contacted about the complaint.
“We continued to be involved with the GEF throughout the autumn and winter months, during which time our internal process was suspended,” Gymnastics Ireland said. ‘In February we agreed to move forward internally and move on to the next phase of our process.’
Reaction to the video continues to erupt on the internet.
Olympic silver medalist US team member Jordan Chiles also labeled the incident as “extremely hurtful on so many levels.”
She also said she wanted to get in touch with the young athlete and asked the gymnastics community to help identify her.
Olympic silver medalist US team member Jordan Chiles also labeled the incident as ‘beyond hurtful on so many levels’
After it resurfaced, the clip was labeled “disgraceful” and “hard to watch” by X users.
Biles, who made history by becoming the first black woman to win the all-around title at the 2013 World Championships, has also been a victim of racism in the sport and has been vocal about tackling it.
After being the target of a vicious racist comment from athlete Carlotta Ferlito, who placed third in the competition, Biles said all athletes of color have shared similar experiences.
“But you just have to keep going for those little ones who look up to us,” she said.
‘It doesn’t matter what you look like. You can strive for greatness, and you can be great.”
In her video to the young gymnast, Biles said, “I just wanted to let you know that I saw how you were treated recently at your GymStart event.
‘I was completely shocked and wanted to let you know that you deserve a medal just like all the other girls.
“I know you’ve worked incredibly hard in the sport and I wanted to say I’m rooting for you from here. Sending you all the best and knowing there are so many of us here to support you.”