— Published 3 April 2023

Trip to Ukraine for Morinari Watanabe

Unexpected. The President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), Morinari Watanabe (photo above), made a trip to Ukraine at the very end of last week. According to an information reported by the website of the Ukrainian presidency, the Japanese leader met with the head of the presidential office, Andriy Yermak, and the Minister of Sports, the former fencer Vadym Guttsait, who is also the president of the National Olympic Committee. Morinari Watanabe’s visit came just four days after the IOC Executive Board recommended the reinstatement of Russian and Belarusian athletes. Gymnasts from both countries have been banned from international competitions since March 2022. “They will remain so until further notice,” the FIG decided last month. Morinari Watanabe is a member of the IOC, where he leads, among other things, the task force responsible for organizing in place of the IBA the qualifications, then the boxing tournament, of the Paris 2024 Games. The communiqué of the Ukrainian presidency specifies that it was formally asked to him, during his visit in Kiev, not to support the recommendation of the IOC to reinstate the Russian and Belarusian athletes.