The Council of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation Meets for the First Time
The Council of the new Gymnastics Ethics Foundation held its first ever meeting on 19 February in Lausanne. The President of the Council, Micheline Calmy-Rey, and the other members were welcomed by the President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), Morinari Watanabe, who thanked them for forming a new body that is tasked both with assisting victims of harassment and abuse and with monitoring good governance principles in the sport.
The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation formally came into operation in January 2019, one month after the member federations gave it the green light during the FIG Congress by allocating an initial contribution of CHF 2 million.
As the Foundation's supreme body, the Council defines its strategy and ensures that it is functioning properly. The following eminent personalities have accepted to become the Council's first members.
Ms Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of Switzerland
HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Mr François Carrard, former Director-General of the IOC
Ms Slava Corn, Honorary Vice-President of the FIG
Ms Ivana Hong, former athlete, US gymnastics team
Director of the Foundation
Mr Alexander McLin
The creation of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation is one of FIG President Watanabe's keynote projects, adopted in the wake of the major abuse scandal that shook US gymnastics. The revelations about the US team doctor gained pace shortly after Mr Watanabe was elected in late 2016.
"We cannot rewrite history but we can learn from the past. As the president of the FIG I promised the gymnasts that I would do all that I could to ensure their protection and to guarantee a safe environment," President Watanabe said in his opening message to the Foundation Council.
Opening the meeting, Ms Calmy-Rey said: "Our mission is not an easy one. And the fact we are here today to face it head-on attests to its importance. Together we have the necessary skills and experience to address and overcome these difficult challenges that we undoubtedly will encounter as we work to respond to the needs of victims of non-accidental violence as they come forward and speak out."
"We must not solely act as a disciplinary body but rather become known to the sport's athletes and officials as a partner that is striving alongside them to strengthen the sport and seek justice for those who deserve it."
"The leadership of the International Gymnastics Federation has had the vision to create a unique entity, which will not only need to help safeguarding in the sport of gymnastics but which will be also a valuable partner to the Federation in setting the standards needed to inspire a culture of good governance amongst its member federations."
Beyond the set missions, the creation of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation is aimed at establishing a veritable countervailing power in gymnastics governance. "I would like to achieve a separation of powers in the sport, between the administrative power that is the FIG, the legislative power provided by the FIG Congress, and the judicial power enshrined in the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation," President Watanabe said.
During this first meeting, the Council members mainly worked on the practical details necessary for the functioning of the Foundation, which is based in Lausanne in the former FIG building.
The Foundation is made up of three sections: a "Safeguarding" section, including a helpdesk for reporting any case of harassment or abuse; a"Disciplinary" section, which includes the two existing FIG disciplinary bodies, the Disciplinary Commission and the Appeal Tribunal; and a "Compliance" section, to monitor good governance and respect for the ethical principles of the FIG.
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