The board immediately discontinues the women’s elite sports program gymnastics of TeamNL. This results in the fact that the coaches involved do not play an active role in the TeamNL elite sports program during the investigation into transgressive behavior and intimidation.

Measures taken for coaches involved can vary and depend on the nature and the legally formal relationship with coaches, and the type of the accusations. It will be notified without any delay in which way and by whom the current activities will be taken over, in consultation with the athletes and the other members of the coaching staff. The board and management of the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation (Koninklijke Nederlandse Gymnastiek Unie, KNGU) reached this decision upon conversations with all individuals involved. The decision of the board is supported by the Dutch Olympic Committee * Dutch Sports Federation (Nederlands Olympisch Comité * Nederlandse Sport Federatie, NOC*NSF).

During the past week, the KNGU announced that an independent investigation be carried out into the nature and scale of transgressive behavior and intimidation in elite sports, in all disciplines of gymnastics. It serves the purpose of a thorough review as regards everything which has been initiated over the past years with respect to a pedagogically accountable (elite) sports climate.

In addition, the KNGU called upon athletes to report malpractices with Center Safe Sports the Netherlands (Centrum Veilige Sport Nederland). Following the release in which former coach Gerrit Beltman admitted to have abused his pupils physically and mentally, several (former) female gymnasts now feel the courage to step forward and share their personal experiences. Experiences also relate to a number of the current coaches of the elite sports program. These will be presented to the Dutch Institute of Sports Justice (Instituut Sportrechtspraak, ISR).

Monique Kempff, chair of the federation’s board, explains the decision: “For quite some time, we have discussed the necessity of a culture change in gymnastics, and an open and transparent approach as regards such signals. We call upon athletes to express themselves. The fact that this happens now, shows great courage. The stories are also a call for recognition about what happened. They deserve this recognition. Not only now, but also in the future. Recognition, and at the same time due diligence with respect to all individuals involved.”

Technical Director Mark Meijer: “This is a heavy decision, especially for the current Olympic elite athletes who are preparing for the 2021 Olympic Games. However, it is necessary in the interest of the sport and the credibility of our elite sports program. We will have consultations with the clubs and trainers involved about the concrete impact of this decision for them. Foremost, we have a duty of care for the current selection group to have the best training practices. We will also consult them in which way this can be implemented.”

Marieke van der Plas, director of KNGU: “(Former) female gymnasts are stepping forward and hold up a mirror for the entire world of gymnastics. Nobody can turn away for what we see. This applies to coaches, but it also applies to us as a federation. It goes without saying that we have been discussing a safe elite sports climate, the thorough pedagogic shift, for quite some time now, and we have been making progress. However, the searching question why it had to take so long, is a true one. The investigation will render a critical and independent judgment as to how we operated as a federation, but further to the signals over the past days, I would like to say the following in this respect: if young athletes felt neglected so badly and if they feel that their signals have not been taken seriously, then we, as a federation, let these young athletes down. That is something we will have to take very seriously indeed.”