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Parkour bodies resist International Gymnastics Federation’s attempts to ‘usurp’ the sport
Parkour groups from around the world are fighting the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in its bid to add the activity to its remit in time for Olympic inclusion in 2024.
With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) introducing youth-oriented sports such as snowboarding, sport climbing, surfing, freestyle BMX biking and skateboarding into Winter and Summer games programs to engage with younger audiences, FIG members will vote on the matter at their annual congress in Baku, Azerbaijan on 2nd and 3rd December.
If two-thirds of members vote for the proposal, parkour would be on track to be added to Olympic Games from 2024.
However, under the banner #WeAreNOTGymnastics, parkour organisations around the world are highlighting that the FIG is trying to "usurp" a growing sport against the wishes of its practitioners.
An open letter from Parkour UK describes the move as, "the encroachment, misappropriation and the attempt to usurp parkour as a 'discipline' of gymnastics under the auspices for the FIG."
The letter adds that the body "will not allow our sport to be to be encroached, misappropriated and usurped unilaterally by another sport against our … will."
Parkour UK urges British Gymnastics to vote against the move, or abstain, at the Baku congress.
Parkour NZ have issued an open letter to Gymnastics NZ, asking them to vote no, or otherwise abstain from voting at the FIG congress highlighting that the FIG are attempting to retrospectively justify two years of working outside the bounds of its governance, authority, and the scope of its statutes, to try and usurp parkour.
Parkour NZ the nationally-recognised governing body for the freerunning discipline says in its letter “it is crucially important for the New Zealand gymnastics community to understand that the New Zealand parkour community, from its grassroots practitioners to its elected representatives, is in firm opposition to parkour under the FIG."
Parkour NZ further remind Gymnastics NZ that the FIG has no mandate from Parkour Earth, the International Federation for Parkour/Freerunning/Art du Déplacement (parkour), and thus have no right to even call this vote.
Parkour NZ Chief Executive, Damien Puddle advised "if Gymnastics NZ voted yes at the FIG congress it would demonstrate a clear conflict of interest, given our status as the NSO for parkour in New Zealand."
The body’s letter conclude “we appreciate your due diligence in this matter and welcome your support in championing good sport governance in the wake of other appalling situations among other sporting communities in our nation. Thank you for respecting our right to look after our own affairs."
The letter also includes a comprehensive list of FIG’s many improprieties over the last two years and is signed by all members of Parkour NZ’s elected and co-opted board.
Parkour Australia has argued that it was concerned about taking Olympic places away from Australian gymnasts in other disciplines in its letter resisting the FIG plan.
A quartet of representatives for parkour on a special FIG committee working on the uneasy marriage resigned in protest last month. They said that while they supported the idea of teaming up with the FIG in theory, "the implementation is trying to go fast with very little or no transparency, no involvement of the international parkour community or national communities."
Parkour began in France in the 1980s, when it was known as the art du deplacement (art of movement), and later took its name from the French word 'parcours' (course).
The UK last year became the first country to recognise Parkour as a sport.
While resistant to FIG adoption, Parkour enthusiasts appear more divided on the idea of eventual inclusion in the Olympics. Some argue that the sport was never supposed to be competitive in nature, while others think the exposure would help the discipline grow.
7th August 2017 - New body formed to represent and develop Parkour around the world
2nd July 2018 - National Trampoline Centre planned for Lake Macquarie
17th February 2016 - Gymnastics Australia celebrates Olympics year with record growth
20th October 2017 - Gymnastics Australia appoints Kitty Chiller as new Chief Executive
23rd January 2015 - Gymnastics Australia joins National Sport Inclusion Alliance
23rd October 2016 - Move to establish Oceania Gymnastics Union
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