Gymnastics Ireland rendered an apology after a viral video showing a Black girl being snubbed during a medal ceremony went viral on social media. According to Sky News, the incident in question happened during a Gymstart event in Dublin last year.
In the video, the Black gymnast is seen with other children lined up to receive medals. But the official giving the medals to the children snubs the Black gymnast. The video has since been watched more than a million times on social media. Olympic champion Simone Biles also condemned the incident, saying that it “broke her heart.”
Biles also said the Black gymnast’s family got in touch with her, adding that she sent the athlete a video message. “There is no room for racism in any sport or at all,” Biles shared on social media.
In an initial interview with the Irish Independent on Sunday, the girl’s mother said officials were yet to apologize to them. She also said they had reported the incident to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland. The girl’s family also claimed race played a factor in the incident.
“We are often the only black family at gymnastics events and this has been very hurtful for us,” the girl’s mother said. “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,” Gymnastics Ireland said in a statement. The organization also said it had asked an independent expert to look into its policies and procedures and some recommendations have been tabled to ensure an incident of such nature “does not ever happen again”, Sky News reported.
“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 stated. The organization also said it “condemns any form of racism whatsoever.”
Gymnastics Ireland said the official who presented the medals to the children “expressed deep regret for what they described as an honest error.”