The next Congress of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) will be held in Antalya, Turkey on November 5-7, where the delegates of the event will elect the next FIG president, Trend reports.
There are two candidates for this authoritative post - President of European Gymnastics, Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Farid Gayibov, as well as the current head of FIG, Japanese Morinari Watanabe.
Since 2006, Farid Gayibov has been the Secretary General of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation. In 2017, Gayibov was elected President of the European Gymnastics Union, later renamed European Gymnastics. On September 7, 2021, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev appointed Farid Gayibov to the post of Minister of Youth and Sports of the country.
Gayibov's opponent, 62-year-old Watanabe was elected as the new President of FIG in 2016 to replace Italy’s Bruno Grandi, who had stepped down following 20 years as head of the organisation. Watanabe had been due to stand for re-election last year but was given an extra 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The well-known insidethegames agency revealed that the Japanese Government is using its Embassies around Europe to drum up support for Morinari Watanabe’s campaign to be re-elected as President of the FIG.
At the same time, the agency notes, Watanabe is approving requests from national governing bodies around the world to provide them with free equipment.
"The Japanese Government appear determined to ensure that he retains his position. Staff working in Japanese Embassies have been contacting gymnastics federations in Europe asking to meet senior officials to discuss the forthcoming election. In one email seen by insidethegames, a culture and protocol attaché wrote to a national governing body, "With regard to the president post at the coming election in November, the Japanese Government is supporting the Japanese candidate, WATANABE Morinari, who is the President of FIG. In connection with that, the Embassy would like to have a meeting with someone being in charge from your side," the insidethegames said.
In another email, the report says, a second secretary at the Embassy offers to get acquainted with Watanabe's manifesto for the election, emphasizing that Japanese Government is supporting his candidacy.
Watanabe defended the role that the Japanese Embassies were playing in his re-election campaign: "I respect the FIG rules," he told insidethegames. "I would like to share my ideas with every national gymnastics federation and the Japan Embassies help me to be introduced as a candidate for FIG Presidency to national gymnastics federations that I cannot visit."
In regards to the free of charge allocation of equipment, FIG secretary general Nicolas Buompane said that the process was transparent and is aimed at supporting gymnastics federations that cannot afford the expensive equipment. However, he still revealed that FIG had suspended awarding free equipment to national governing bodies in the run-up to the election.
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