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The Gymnastic Ireland’s Gymstart program has recently come under intense scrutiny after a newly discovered viral video was called out by social media users, most notably among them U.S. Olympic G.O.A.T. Simone Biles.
Its governing body has only now issued an apology after a video resurfaced showing a White female judge ignoring the only Black girl at a medal ceremony last year.
The clip shows the Gymnastic’s Ireland judge placing medals around children’s necks one-by-one. Approaching the only Black child, she skips over her and continues to address, acknowledge, and award the other White children.
In the clip, the Black girl is shown smiling at first, but then appears befuddled after the judge passes. The judge has not been publicly identified.
The now-viral video of the March 2022 incident has sparked social media outrage and prompted a response from Biles.
After seeing racism up close and personal throughout her career, Biles has long spoken out for those who could not.
Also in 2020, Biles said, “you just have to keep going for those little ones looking up to us. It doesn’t matter what you look like. You can strive for greatness, and you can be great.”
Gymnastics Ireland says they are “sorry”
“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” Gymnastics Ireland said in a statement Monday, well after social media backlash reached a fever pitch. “We are also sorry that what has happened since that date has caused further upset.”
The flimsy statement continued: “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.”
Gymnastic Ireland’s Gymstart says it’s “creating a safe, progressive & fun environment for all”
Originally, the video was captured during a series of events for Gymnastic Ireland’s GymStart program, which is aimed at encouraging people to join the sport by “creating a safe, progressive & fun environment for all,” according to the Gymnastics Ireland website.
According to NBC News, the apology is Gymnastic Ireland’s first public statement about the incident.
Nevertheless, the girl’s mother condemned the judge’s behavior and the entity’s 18-month silence in an interview with The Guardian.
“It’s unbelievable that you treat a little girl this way,” said the mother, whose name was withheld by the Guardian to protect her daughter’s privacy. “It’s a systemic problem, because when you don’t speak out, the message is that you are happy for it to go on.”
Later, the girl received a medal eventually, and the judge involved has denied intentionally skipping over her, The Guardian reported.
Gymnastics Ireland said they’d like to meet with Sport Against Racism Ireland to learn how their “procedures can be improved.”
Gymnastics Ireland said the right words but did not provide any details about the recommendations or how they would be implemented.