Gymnastics Ireland Apologizes After Video Shows Judge Withholding Black Child’s Medal

The governing body for gymnastics in Ireland has released an apology after a year-old video resurfaced showing a judge skipping over the only Black girl at a medal ceremony.

The March 2022 video, which has now gone viral, shows a female judge placing medals one by one around the necks of young gymnasts. The event was part of Gymnastics Ireland’s GymStart program, which officials say is meant to encourage people to get involved in the sport by “creating a safe, progressive & fun environment for all.”

But in the video, the judge appears to ignore the only little Black girl in the line of gymnasts and continues to hand medals to the rest of the children. The girl is shown smiling as she waits for her medal but then appears upset and confused when she is skipped over. Neither the judge nor the girl have been publicly identified.

The video has sparked outrage across social media, including from U.S. Olympic champion Simone Biles. The Black gymnast said that the girl’s parents reached out to her soon after the incident last year.

“It broke my heart to see, so I sent her a little video,” Biles posted Friday on X, formerly Twitter. “There is no room for racism in any sport or at all !!!!”

Biles’ teammate Jordan Chiles, another Olympic medalist, said the video is “beyond hurtful on so many levels.”

On Monday, Gymnastics Ireland released an apology and said the organization “condemns any form of racism whatsoever.”

“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” the group’s statement read.

Gymnastics Ireland also said that it had offered an in-person apology to the family but subsequently “felt mediation was the best way forward.”

“We know now we need to do more,” Gymnastics Ireland’s Monday statement said, noting that an independent expert had made “a series of recommendations” that the group is “fully committed to implementing so that this does not ever happen again.”

The statement did not specify what kind of policies and recommendations the group would adopt to prevent another racist incident.

In an interview with The Guardian on Sunday, the gymnast’s mother — whose name was withheld to protect the child and her family from racist abuse — said that Gymnastics Ireland did not apologize until the video began circulating. The family also said that gymnastics officials declined to attend mediation, casting the racist moment as a personal dispute rather than something wrong with the institution.

“It’s unbelievable that you treat a little girl this way,” she said. “It’s a system problem because when you don’t speak out, the message is that you are happy for it to go away.”

The young gymnast eventually received her medal and is continuing to participate in Gymnastics Ireland events, the organization said.

According to The Guardian, the judge who skipped over her has denied that her behavior was racially motivated.