The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) today announced its plans to set up an Athlete Advisory Panel (AAP) which will ensure that the voices and concerns of athletes are more effectively represented and addressed both within the Foundation’s internal structures as well as within the sport at a broader level.
The AAP will serve as a direct line of communication between athletes and the GEF Council and Management, enabling athletes to provide valuable insights and perspectives on issues that directly impact them. The AAP will also be consulted when drafting guidance or new policies.
By athletes for athletes
Placing gymnasts and the people that support and serve gymnastics at the heart of the Foundation’s work is a key element of Gymnasts 2028, the GEF’s strategic framework launched last year. By establishing a structure which allows for athletes’ concerns to be heard, understood, and acted upon, the GEF aims to contribute towards a healthier, more inclusive, and athlete-centric sporting environment.
Aagje Vanwalleghem, Athletes’ representative on the Foundation’s Council, said about this initiative:
“It’s so important to allow the future of safe sport in gymnastics to be driven by athletes for athletes. For the new Panel, we will ensure efficient structures and processes, with a diverse representation of athletes from multiple disciplines and different regions. Our operations must remain flexible, allowing for consultation and discussion as and when needed. As a matter of principle, it will be vital to provide a safe space to raise concerns and discuss ideas or improvements.”
The AAP will also include athletes with lived experience of abuse who are ready to give recommendations in important fields like prevention, trauma-informed case management and remedy.
GEF President Micheline Calmy-Rey highlighted:
“With the creation of an Athlete Advisory Panel we’d like to ensure that the athletes’ voices are not only heard, but also incorporated into decision-making. By providing a platform for independent athlete voices with diverse representation, this Panel will mitigate power imbalances and contribute to a more inclusive structure.”
The first step will be to further increase the awareness of the Foundation and its purpose among gymnasts at FIG events in 2024 before establishing a formal process to receive expressions of interest from gymnasts for becoming a member of a dedicated working group. This working group will then ultimately make recommendations to the Foundation on the future AAP composition, ensuring a diverse representation.