Gymnastics Ireland Statement re Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Eligibility

27th May 2022, 22:14p.m. | National

While Gymnastics Ireland is not directly involved with the Commonwealth Games (CWG) many of our athletes, officials and staff have historically represented Northern Ireland at multiple CWG events. They have done so by virtue of the fact that while they hold International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) licences for Ireland they also meet the eligibility and selection criteria of the NICGC. This includes Irish international gymnastics star and 2018 Commonwealth Games Champion Rhys McClenaghan.

Historically this issue has come up before regarding a number of CWG’s events and on each occasion Gymnastics Ireland (GI) and British Gymnastics (BG) have written to FIG to clarify our position in support of the gymnasts/officials. In 2017 at the request of Gymnastics Northern Ireland (GNI) both GI & BG engaged with the FIG, the resolution being that the gymnasts would be allowed to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games however officials with an Irish FIG licence would not be allowed to participate on that occasion. Gymnastics Northern Ireland was the primary conduit of communication for this as matters that relate to Northern Ireland CWG participation are within their jurisdiction as a member of the NICGC.

To date Gymnastics Ireland has had no further communication on this issue from either the FIG, GNI, CGF or NICGC until we were contacted by representatives of the NICGC yesterday 26th May 2022 to inform us that this eligibility issue had emerged again. Despite this not being within our jurisdiction we immediately engaged with all relevant stakeholders/partners and wrote directly to the President & Secretary General of FIG to reaffirm our support for the gymnasts in question requesting that they be allowed to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games. We are awaiting a reply from FIG.

Historically the FIG has always supported the rights of the citizens of Northern Ireland and gymnasts with Irish FIG licences to participate in CWG events. As per our letter we have requested that the FIG continues with the supportive position that they have previously taken and grants permission for the gymnasts/officials in question to represent Northern Ireland at the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games. We request the FIG makes this a formal policy position moving forward to avoid any future issue.

Gymnastics Ireland remains available to immediately engage with any relevant stakeholder/partner to secure a speedy resolution in the interests of our gymnasts.

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