As a clear sign of its strong commitment to the protection of gymnasts, the FIG will develop a “Duty of Care Code” which sets up all the policies and procedures regarding misconduct in the Gymnastics world, ranging from prevention and education to reporting, investigation and sanctions.
“As FIG President, I declare that we will not tolerate abuse or sexual harassment in the Gymnastics community,” said Morinari Watanabe. “In the sporting community, we observe the rules because we are educated to do so. But rules cannot be observed only through education and legislation. Severe sanctions are needed. The same level of severe measures as anti-doping is necessary for eradicating harassment,” he emphasized.
Just after taking up his duties in January, the FIG President decided to mandate a working group to review the Federation existing rules in this matter and to reinforce them. This working group, composed of Slava Corn, Jane Allen and Steve Butcher, held its first meeting in Lausanne May 31 and June 1, starting from the premise that “everyone in sport has the responsibility to develop a culture of dignity and safety.”
In an effort to assist the FIG’s member federations, they established the principles of a “Duty of Care Code” providing a series of supporting procedures which are intended to serve as the acceptable standard when adopting and implementing safeguarding policies. It will be the responsibility of each member federation to adopt and implement such policies.
The group based its work notably on the strong recommendations to international federations of the IOC’s Agenda 2020, which provides a framework outlining the key components required for athlete welfare.
As the governing body of one of the top Olympic sports, the FIG fully endorses this framework and these principles, and is committed to strengthening the support offered to all its members by putting the athletes involved in gymnastics, their safety, well-being and welfare, at the centre of everything the FIG does.
“Winning medals is important but this should not be at the expense of the Duty of Care towards our athletes, coaches and members involved in gymnastics,” President Watanabe emphasised.
“Everybody has the responsibility to identify and prevent misconduct, harassment and abuse. Our member federations in particular must demonstrate strong leadership by identifying and eradicating unacceptable practices and implementing preventative programs,” stressed Slava Corn, FIG Honorary Vice President and President of this working group.
The FIG will also develop educational material and provide opportunities to share case studies of best practice to further assist its member federations.
The FIG working group recommends also the establishment of an Ethics and Welfare Unit within the Federation’s headquarters in Switzerland.
This unit will not only work to implement the FIG’s policies and procedures for addressing complaints, but will collaborate with the activities of other FIG Commissions who play an integral role in the delivery of duty of care to its members.
The Ethics and Welfare Unit will also collaborate with the FIG Academy programme for coaches to develop educational resources and examples of best practice for delivery at FIG courses, World Championships, events and congresses.