New lockdown fears
Coronavirus outbreaks in rugby league and women’s football have raised concerns that a number of competitions across sport may be forced back into lockdown. Hull’s meeting with Castleford and Salford’s game with Catalans this weekend have been called off and the weekend fixtures rejigged after a spate of positive Covid-19 tests.
The Government was last night warned young gymnasts may be at risk of further abuse due to the time it was taking to launch an independent review of the scandal that has engulfed British Gymnastics.
It is now four weeks since UK Sport and Sport England, which are answerable to ministers, revealed they were taking over the commissioning of the review, saying they intended to move “swiftly” in finalising and publishing details of it. That was after British Gymnastics stepped aside following the announcement of its own independent review into an avalanche of allegations that those taking part in the sport had been bullied, beaten and starved.
A QC was appointed to lead that review within a day of the scandal but, as of last night, the identity of the head of the new review had not been confirmed, with UK Sport and Sport England saying they were close to confirming the appointment of an independent QC “to lead the investigation into the serious allegations made, while also finalising the terms of reference”.
However, Vicki Aggar, the chair of the British Athletes Commission, said she had heard nothing about the review since it was announced and had yet to be engaged over developing its terms of reference.
Gyms have now reopened following the coronavirus crisis and shadow sports minister Alison McGovern said: “If this takes a long time, what we do risk is conduct being repeated, and that’s not OK.
“I would ask all of those involved to expedite this, because that’s the best way to get to the bottom of what’s happened and to put rules in place to make sure that there’s no further risk to young athletes.”
Olympian Hannah Whelan, who recently revealed she contacted
British Gymnastics in 2015 and 2018 but never heard back, said: “It was going to take time, but it’s frustrating we’ve heard nothing at all. We don’t know how many gymnasts may be feeling vulnerable because they have come forward, and yet they’re going back into the gym.”
UK Sport and Sport England added in a joint statement that they were “taking into account the nature and scale of complaints made from within gymnastics since we first announced our intentions. Following this, we will make a formal and public announcement.
“We owe it to all those affected and to those involved at all levels of gymnastics to take the time to get this right and that is exactly what we are doing.”
The Government did not respond to requests for comment.