N° 68 - Lausanne (SUI), February 2013
The new FIG office-holders officially took up their duties during the traditional handover ceremony, which concluded with a taking of oaths.
This significant gesture, which was ratified as a requirement by the 2012 FIG Congress in Cancun (MEX), once more underlines our desire to eradicate all attempts to undermine the principles of ethics, justice and fair play that we are striving to nurture.
Old habits die hard, but our determination is unwavering, as is testified by the work of our Disciplinary Committee, which has set about investigating events surrounding of the intercontinental judge's course last December in Bucharest, and which will do everything to expose the unsavoury incidents that took place there.
After the shadow, comes the light!
Meanwhile, we bid an emotional farewell to Sawao Kato. A gymnastics legend and a Japanese icon, Sawao decided to step down from the Men's Technical Committee after 20 years of loyal service. He took his leave without fuss, with the kind of humility and discretion that have typified his approach throughout the course of his career.
I referred to him as a legend without the slightest sense of hyperbole. Sawao amassed an incredible 12 Olympic medals during his competitive career, eight of them gold! That places him right at the top of the FIG all-time Olympic medal rankings, some way clear of Chakline and Andrianov who each won a total of seven!
Before moving on, I would like to share with you an episode that will have left a lasting mark on this exceptional man, as, indeed, it has done on me.
I don't need to remind anyone of the events at the 2005 Artistic Gymnastics World Champions in Melbourne, when a score was awarded in error to the Russian Nikolai Kryukov during the qualification round, only to be overturned by the Technical Committee, allowing Fabian Hambuechen (GER) into the final. However, I am the only one who could remember the subsequent tears of Sawao Kato, who came to see me in private in order to tender his resignation. He admitted to me that it was he who had made the mistake with Kryukov's score. This man, who was a hero and a legend, someone who had more than earned our forgiveness, simply could not tolerate the idea of being responsible for such a mistake. In short, he was a true samurai.
Today, I pay homage to Sawao Kato for having taught me, and indeed all of us, the most wonderful lesson in courage, humanity and integrity. In confessing his error, he merely enhanced his reputation; he was, like all of us, not infallible; but he also showed himself to be honest beyond dispute, and that is a quality that is far less common.
I felt it was important to share this story with you.
The new Olympic cycle which is now underway represents an immense challenge for all of us. However, everything that I have witnessed during my recent travels leave me convinced that our potential is every bit as immense. The FIG, together with its 133 national member associations, and millions of gymnasts worldwide can look forward to some truly magnificent projects going forward. I'm delighted to be able to state that our future rests very much in our own hands.
With my kind regards.
FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE GYMNASTIQUE
Prof. Bruno GRANDI, FIG President