PtG Article 08.12.2018

Gymnastics accused of ‘hostile takeover’ of parkour

People in the parkour community feel that international gymnastics is annexing their sport after FIG congress votes to include parkour on the gymnastics programme.

The parkour community is currently fighting against what they call a ‘hostile takeover’ of the sport by the international gymnastics federation, FIG.

The FIG trying to “misappropriate, encroach upon and usurp” parkour, said an open letter from parkour federation, Parkour Earth, leading up to the 82nd FIG congress held in Baku, Azerbaijan, earlier this month which included a vote to include parkour on the gymnastics programme.

According to Parkour Earth, the FIG is looking to take control of parkour in order to cater to some of the future plans for the Olympic movement as laid out in the Olympic Agenda 2020 and because gymnastics eye an opportunity to increase its income through the popularity of the urban street sport.

"FIG are attempting to misappropriate, encroach upon and usurp parkour to bolster their existing sport and their place in the Olympic Games," Parkour Earth chief executive Eugene Minogue said according to BBC Sport. "It's the equivalent of a hostile takeover."

The inclusion of parkour has been on the table in the FIG since Morinari Watanabe became president and, last year, the FIG set up a ‘Parkour commission’, with high-profile representatives from the parkour environment in it. The commission was supposed to assist gymnastics in developing parkour as a gymnastics discipline.

In November this year, the majority of this commission’s members pulled out and called the implementation process of parkour into gymnastics “fast, with very little or no transparency” and with “no involvement of the international parkour community or national committees”, a statement signed by four outgoing members said.

"Our parkour values are in incompatibility with this new project that will not preserve the essence of our parkour community."

Parkour and its closely related discipline freerunning is by many considered as much a way of life as a sport. In any case, many practitioners find it hard to see parkour and gymnastics under the same umbrella.

“You look at gymnastics, that’s inside, rigid, precise and rule bound. Whereas parkour is outdoors, free lowing and open to interpretation,” says chief executive of New Zealand parkour, Damien Puddle, according to Radio NZ.

At the Baku congress, the FIG voted in favour of a constitutional change that allows gymnastics to include parkour on its programme.

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