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‘We Are Family’ says President Watanabe in New Year’s message to gymnastics commun

FIG President Morinari Watanabe

FIG President Morinari Watanabe

Ev’ryone can see we’re together As we walk on by (Hey) and we fly just like birds of a feather I won’t tell no lie (ALL!) all of the people around us they say Can they be that close Just let me state for the record We’re giving love in a family dose

Come, sing it with me – “We are family… I got all my…”

OK, so they are the lyrics to the Sister Sledge song We Are Family, but it is also the new slogan chosen by International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Morinari Watanabe for the gymnastics community this year.

It follows “Innovation” in 2018.

This sentiment was part of Watanabe’s New Year’s message.

In his message, the head of the gymnastics governing body reflected on a difficult year for gymnastics, in particular the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, and how some of the gymnasts found their voices in light of their ordeals.

He said: “We should not turn our eyes away from those gymnasts who are harassed.”

“The pain that the United States feels is not the pain of the United States alone. It is the pain of all of us in the Gymnastics family. We all should share the pain.”

He went on to add that we “all should share the happiness. That is because we are family”.

In light of the events of 2018, the recent FIG Congress on Baku, Azerbaijain approved the creation of a Gymnastics Violence Prevention Foundation.

The Japanese official also asserted that the “gymnastics family” should recognise financially challenged countries, as well as the regions who lack “technical capacities”.

As things move forward, and with the qualification process for Tokyo 2020 in full swing, Watanabe added that the FIG should organise championships to provide “value for the spectators who buy the tickets”.

He said: “What is necessary for the development of Gymnastics is not simply the enjoyment of the Gymnastics family. The important thing is to inspire those who are not interested in Gymnastics and help their interest in our disciplines grow.”

“In the current era, sports cannot develop unless they evolve as entertainment,” Watanabe said.

“In that sense, each of our World Championships last year was an innovative event.”

Watanabe added that a “new wave of parkour athletes joined us” during 2018, with the FIG Congress approving parkour as an official new discipline.

He also celebrated the establishment of an Oceania continental union last year.

FIG secretary general Nicolas Buompane

FIG secretary general Nicolas Buompane

Meanwhile, Nicolas Buompane has officially assumed his role as the new Secretary General of the International Gymnastics Federation on 1 January 2019.

Mr Buompane, 47, succeeds André Gueisbuhler (SUI) who held this position from 2005 to 2018.

He had been serving as the deputy secretary general, before being nominated to this position by the FIG Executive Committee on the recommendation of Watanabe.

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