The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique will not be winning any awards any time soon for its contribution to international diplomacy.

Yesterday it emerged that three Irish Gymnasts, including Rhys McClenaghan, would not be permitted to compete for Northern Ireland at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The basis of the decision is that they have been competing for Ireland and could not, therefore, represent Northern Ireland as a separate entity.

They seem unaware of the fact that McClenaghan is the reigning Commonwealth Games Champion in the Pommel Horse having won the title on the Gold Coast in 2018 at the age of 18. On that occasion, he represented Northern Ireland.

“I was born in Northern Ireland, my residence is in Northern Ireland and I represented and won Gold for Northern Ireland in the last Commonwealth Games,” he said yesterday in a statement.

“I feel that FIG do not understand the gravity of the Belfast Agreement and the unique situation pertaining to Northern Ireland.”

“Every other sport understands the eligibility of Northern Irish athletes in accordance with Commonwealth Games.”

“I would like to ask the FIG to reconsider their decision and allow us to compete at the Commonwealth Games.”

Gymnasts from England, Scotland and Wales are permitted to compete despite having done so for Team GB at international Games.

Then again this is the body that did not prevent Russian and Belarus athletes from competing at the European Championships in the early days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and were rewarded with a Russian athlete sporting the politically loaded Z symbol on a podium alongside a Ukrainian gymnast.

Commonwealth Games organisers are supporting moves to get the decision overturned and to allow McClenaghan, Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer to compete.

“We fully appreciate the complex and sensitive nature of this matter and have done everything we can to find a solution, including facilitating urgent consideration by the FIG Executive Committee.”

“As an athlete-centred organisation, we share the disappointment of the affected athletes and gymnastics fans and are in discussions with Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland regarding the immediate implications and appropriate next steps.”

We understand that legal action is being considered by Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland and can only hope that sensible rowing back of the decision is made.

The Commonwealth Games take place in Birmingham, England from July 27th to August 7th.



Sport for Business Partners