Following a controversial decision by the International Gymnastics Federation, Irish gymnast Rice McGlenagan and two other teammates, Emon Montgomery and Evan McAuertier, will be banned from participating in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8. Was to represent Northern Ireland.
The reason for the omission of the three athletes was that they would compete in FIG’s other competitions under the Irish flag, for which they no longer have the authority to represent Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games.
Facts- In 2017, gymnastics Ireland and British gymnastics appeared to be warned in writing by the FIG that judges and athletes from the IRL National Federation could not be selected to participate in the Commonwealth Games.
FIG also claims to have received a letter from the CGF (Commonwealth Games Federation) on May 16, 2022 requesting a personal invitation to allow 3 gymnasts to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The request to hold a FIG license for Ireland – 3 gymnasts to compete for Northern Ireland – was discussed by the FIG Executive Committee at its meeting on 25 May 2022, and following a resolution the Committee would reject this request.
The main reason for the International Federation’s rejection is that the request violates one of the rules of the FIG Rules, namely: “Gymnasts participating in international FIG supervised competitions must have a valid FIG license from the national federation they represent.“
FIG is aware of the inconvenience caused by the situation to all involved, and would have suggested alternative options for resolving the dispute: the first option would be to remove the competition from the FIG registered competition calendar at the request of the CGF; The second would be changing the FIG national license registration of athletes.
The decision was strongly opposed by the athletes themselves and the personality of Antoinette McConaugh, Managing Director of the Northern Irish Committee on CGNI – Commonwealth Games.
McLennan, a Tokyo 2020 Olympic finalist, is the only Northern Irish athlete to ever win a medal at the Commonwealth Games: to be precise, gold for the horse with handles in 2018, his specialty.
This very tough decision has prevented the athlete from defending the crown, as well as the fact that he commented on the incident with considerable frustration with the microphones of the BBC Sports NI:
“Being the current champion in the Grab Horse and not being able to defend the title because I was not allowed to participate was a huge setback for me and my teammates. We have worked hard to prepare for this kind of competition, and this is one of the biggest opportunities for all of us, and it’s really frustrating that it prevents us from participating in this way. This decision left me and my teammates in a quandary: we do not know if we will be able to compete and train every day, and this doubt is not the best way to focus. We want to get an accurate hint, it really hurts us to act like this. “.
On May 26, 2022, Rice launched a message on his social profile informing his followers of FIG’s decision and commenting on it:
“I was informed today that FIG will not allow me and my teammates to represent the Commonwealth Games in Northern Ireland. I was born in Northern Ireland and live in Northern Ireland. I represented Northern Ireland at the last Commonwealth Games and won a gold medal. I believe FIG does not understand the significance of the Belfast Agreements and the only situation in which Northern Ireland finds itself.
Therefore, FIG’s decision would be seen as contrary to the CGNI’s repeated Good Friday Agreements or the Belfast Agreements.
COS’E ‘IL Belfast Agreement– Good Friday Agreement (Good Friday CovenantThe Belfast Agreement is one of the most important milestones in the Northern Ireland peace process. It is a multilateral agreement between the parties to Northern Ireland and an international agreement (the British-Irish Agreement) between the UK Government and the Republic of Ireland. In light of this, many Irish politicians have criticized FIG’s decision to exclude the three athletes because it contradicts this agreement, which allows citizens the right to hold an Irish or English passport or both.
The situation in Northern Ireland is in fact quite unique and unique: it is not uncommon for athletes who have competed under the Irish flag in other FIG competitions to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games.
CGNI Announcements- “Northern Ireland has a very complex identity of its own, which is important for all sports organizations to recognize. During these 10 years, Sports NI has worked with its partners to make Sports flexible in order to keep our athletes happy and to allow as many opportunities as possible to compete. Internationally, many of our athletes choose to compete in Great Britain or Ireland. The Commonwealth Games are a welcome opportunity for Northern Irish athletes, regardless of their community background or political opinion, to represent their region, and we are proud of the success of many of them.– Antoinette Mckeown Announces- “FIG’s decision is not taken into account, nor does it respect the extraordinary circumstances or complex identity of Northern Ireland, and we fully support CGNI and its efforts to circumvent this decision. We will also use our relationship with our colleagues in Great Britain to make the sports community fully aware that this decision is not in anyone’s best interests.
Statements of Gymnastics Ireland– Even the Irish Federation would have sided with the unjustly excluded athletes:
“Although gymnastics is not directly involved in the Ireland Commonwealth Games (CWG), our athletes, officials and staff have historically represented Northern Ireland at multiple CWG events. While they hold the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) licenses for Ireland, they meet NICGC eligibility and selection criteria. […] Historically, FIG has always supported the rights of citizens of Northern Ireland and Irish FIG licensed gymnasts to attend CWG events. We have asked FIG to allow gymnasts / officers to represent Northern Ireland at the next Commonwealth Games in 2022 and to continue with the previous supportive stance. FIG We demand that this be changed to a politically stable formal position. To avoid future problems. Gymnastics Ireland is available for immediate engagement with any relevant partner / partner to ensure a quick solution to our athletes’ interests.I”.
FIG has not yet provided official answers, so there are no relevant developments. A few hours ago, a tweet from gymnast McGlenagan suggested that gymnasts decide to go for the second solution suggested by FIG mentioned above: change the registration of the national FIG license.
However, nothing has been confirmed yet, and further developments in the situation await, in the hope of an agreement in favor of the athletes.
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