Gymnastics Ireland has issued an unreserved apology to a black girl whose family alleged she was unfairly denied a medal at a Gymstart event in Dublin in March 2022.
The incident gained significant attention after a video surfaced on social media, garnering millions of views.
In their statement, Gymnastics Ireland expressed deep regret for the distress caused by the incident, acknowledging the need to take proactive measures to prevent a recurrence and condemning all forms of racism.
They noted that criticism on social media, including a heartfelt response from US gymnastics legend Simone Biles, underscored the gravity of the situation. Biles had said that the video "broke her heart", saying "There is no room for racism in any sport".
Previously, the organisation had received a complaint from the girl's parents regarding alleged racist behaviour, leading to independent mediation and a resolution agreed upon by both parties in August 2023.
As part of their internal investigation, the officials involved expressed sincere regret for what they characterised as an honest error. A written apology from the official was issued, and the girl received her medal after the ceremony.
However, the girl's mother, speaking anonymously to the Irish Independent, expressed dissatisfaction with Gymnastics Ireland's response, believing they had failed to offer a public apology. She intended to pursue the matter with the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.
In their statement, 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."
Furthermore, Gymnastics Ireland expressed a willingness to engage with the gymnast's family and Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) to seek input on improving their procedures in addressing such sensitive matters.
They affirmed their commitment to welcoming the gymnast back to future events and emphasised their unequivocal condemnation of any form of racism.