Gymnastics Ireland has issued an unreserved apology to the family of a black girl who was not given a medal at an events ceremony in Ireland.
The incident occurred at a Gymstart event in Dublin in March 2022, when a line of children were awarded medals but a young black girl did not get one.
A video of the incident emerged in recent days and has been watched millions of times on social media.
Gymnastics Ireland apologised “for the upset that has been caused”.
In the statement issued on Monday, the governing body said it was “deeply sorry”, that it knew it needed to do more to ensure “nothing like this will happen again” and it condemned “any form of racism”.
That followed criticism from many people on social media, including US gymnastics legend Simone Biles, who posted that the video “broke her heart”, saying “there is no room for racism in any sport”.
Olympic champion Biles responds to viral video of black girl not given medal
A statement issued by the organisation on Friday had acknowledged it received a complaint from the parents of the girl alleging racist behaviour in March 2022.
It said there was independent mediation leading to a “resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023”.
As part of Gymnastics Ireland’s investigation into the incident, the official involved “expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest error”.
Gymnastics Ireland said a written apology from the official was issued. It also said the girl did get her medal after the ceremony.
However, the Irish Independent on Sunday quoted the girl’s mother anonymously saying she believed Gymnastics Ireland had failed to publicly apologise and she intended to take the matter to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.
The new statement issued on behalf of Gymnastics Ireland said: “On behalf of the board and staff of Gymnastics Ireland we would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident at the GymStart event in March 2022.
“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry.
“We are also sorry that what has happened since that date has caused further upset.
“Please know that at all times we have been acting in good faith and with the best of intentions in trying to resolve this very difficult and sensitive matter.
“We offered an in-person apology after the incident as we believed this was the best approach. Subsequently we felt mediation was the best way forward.”
This video is making the rounds. In the Gymnastics Ireland statement released today about this event that occurred 1 yr ago they said “The official also expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest error” What kind of error is that?This was a blatant act of racism. pic.twitter.com/KkU0ueO0Jv
— Bob Roony (@Bob_Roony) September 23, 2023
‘We know we need to do more’
The sport’s ruling body in Ireland went on to indicate it was taking measures to ensure there would be no repeat of the incident in the future.
“We know now we need to do more,” it said. “We are committed to ensuring nothing like this will happen again.
“We appointed an independent expert to review our policies and procedures earlier this year and a series of recommendations have resulted which we are fully committed to implementing so that this does not ever happen again.
“We would also like to engage with the gymnast’s family and Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) to listen to any suggestions they have as to how our procedures can be improved in this regard.
“We are happy to see that the gymnast continues to participate in Gymnastics Ireland events and we look forward to welcoming her back to our future events also.
“Finally, we would like to make it absolutely clear that Gymnastics Ireland condemns any form of racism whatsoever.”