Namibian gymnasts miss Birmingham 2022

NAMIBIAN gymnasts Emilia Ekandjo and Shayna Schutte missed the opportunity to compete at the Commonwealth Games after the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) refused to back down in a row over who runs the sport in their country.

FIG recognize Namibian Gymnastics (NamGym), a group set up by former Namibian Gymnastics Federation (NGF) president Sonja Olivier.

The National Namibian Olympic Committee (NNOC) and Namibian Sports Commission, the government institution that is the umbrella and regulatory organization of all sports codes in the country, recognize the NGF.

Olivier had claimed that NamGym was the sole and authentic body of the sport in Namibia, but last week the High Court in Windhoek ruled against her, saying that it did not have any legal standing.

But, despite this, FIG are still refusing to allow Ekandjo and Schutte to compete in rhythmic gymnastics, which is due to start at Birmingham 2022 tomorrow.

An eleventh-hour appeal to FIG by NGF President Sharifa Y Wentworth, who claimed that “our gymnast deserves the opportunity to attend this event,” was ignored.

FIG insisted they cannot do anything until a ruling from the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF), which in its mission statement claims it “strives to uphold safety and fairness in the sport of gymnastics”.

FIG secretary general Nicolas Buompane told Wentworth that there was nothing FIG could do.

“As mentioned, several times, we cannot accept the participation of Namibia to an FIG sanctioned event until the suspension is lifted by GEF,” Buompane wrote to Wentworth.

“We take due note of the decision of the High Court and will get back to you as soon as possible.

“We need to discuss this topic with the GEF as well as with our lawyers.”

Buompane claimed the only solution for Ekandjo and Schutte was to compete hors concours, which would have meant they would not be included officially in the competition, or obtain a FIG license, which they do not have because the world governing body do not recognize the NGF .

“You will understand that the conflict in Namibia has been ongoing for several years and will not be resolved overnight,” a spokesperson for FIG told insidethegames.

“The FIG must comply with the GEF’s decision until a new decision is made.

“In the meantime, the FIG proposed alternative solutions for the participation of gymnasts in the Commonwealth Games, provided that they have valid FIG licenses.” –

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