International Gymnastics Federation

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Parkour organizers tell International Gymnastics Federation to back off

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GENEVA (AP) — Global organizers of street-running known as parkour have set the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) a deadline to end attempts to control their sport and give it Olympic status.

Parkour Earth asked FIG President Morinari Watanabe in an open letter on Thursday for an “urgent meeting” by Sept. 15 to formalize its right to govern.

The six-nation group seeks FIG’s “commitment to take no further steps to implement your purported encroachment.”

It’s the latest dispute involving Olympic sports bodies for control of popular youth-oriented events.

Parkour combines running, climbing and acrobatics across an obstacle course of urban architecture. It has featured in scenes from the action movies “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Casino Royale.”

FIG is working with some French founders of parkour to launch a world tour of events next year, leading to a first world championship in 2020.

After the International Olympic Committee added urban events such as 3-on-3 basketball, skateboarding, and sport climbing to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics program, parkour seems a likely target for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

However, organizers recognized in France, Britain, and Australia say Olympic ambitions are unwanted.

“As the International Federation for Parkour/Freerunning/Art Du Deplacement, Parkour Earth will henceforth be the recognized custodians of the philosophy, integrity and sovereignty of our sport/art/discipline internationally,” the group said.

The open letter was signed by Parkour Earth’s independent chairman, British lawyer Stuart McInnes who is an experienced judge at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The letter said it was copied to CAS and the IOC.

FIG is based in the IOC’s home city of Lausanne, Switzerland, but did not succeed in getting a form of parkour added to the Tokyo program in June. The same day, FIG issued a news release explaining its vision for parkour.

The gymnastics body said some parkour officials were responsible for “bias and misinformation indiscriminately conveyed” on social media to create a negative reaction.

“FIG would like to specify that its approach has never been to unilaterally appropriate a discipline,” it said in June.

The FIG executive committee is due to discuss the parkour issue at an Oct. 26-27 meeting in Benin.

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Gymnastics team event sizes at Olympics cut to four

USA gymnastics
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Olympic gymnastics team event sizes will be cut from five gymnasts to four starting with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, according to an International Gymnastics Federation official.

“The team format will be four gymnasts, four compete on each appataus [sic], and three scores count,” was posted on FIG men’s technical committee president Steve Butcher‘s Facebook account. “The best countries will be able to qualify up to two individual gymnasts also through World Cups, Challenge Cups, and Continental Championships. There are many other formulas for AA [all-around] gymnasts to qualify outside of the teams. The final details are still to be worked out, but the format is now set. I am one of the few that did not support this major change.”

Olympic team event sizes were five men and five women each at London 2012, six men and six women each at Beijing 2008, Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000 and seven men and seven women each at Atlanta 1996.

U.S. women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said in March that the rule change was “absurd.”

“It will hurt the spectacle, what the gymnasts can provide for the whole world, and would eliminate some of the strongest gymnasts just in our country,” Karolyi said. “Even when the team was six we had to leave home some strong ones. I totally don’t feel like I am really happy about that, but decisions will be taken, and we will be with any kind of decision. That’s what we did in the past, even if something doesn’t seem like very smart or very good, but once the rules are set for us, we will go with it.”

Butcher’s Facebook post pointed out that nations may be able to qualify six men’s and six women’s gymnasts to the Olympics — more than the team sizes at London 2012 — but two of the gymnasts would be for individual events rather than the team competition.

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International Gymnastics Federation president to retire after 20 years

Bruno Grandi
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Bruno Grandi, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) president since 1996, will not seek a sixth four-year term, announcing his retirement after his current run ends in 2016.

The 80-year-old Italian’s successor will be elected in October 2016.

Under Grandi’s leadership, the FIG’s biggest change was the adoption of the current Code of Points judging system following scoring controversies at the Athens 2004 Olympics under the longtime system where perfect scores were 10.0.

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