Obstacle Sport Federation Comments on Gymnastic’s New Obstacle Sport

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In a leaked email, the International Obstacle Sports Federation has commented on the new obstacle sport proposed by the International Gymnastics Federation for the Olympics.

Gymnastics meet

The new obstacle discipline, not been officially named, will be the FIG’s eighth gymnastics discipline – alongside Gymnastics for All, men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic, trampoline, acrobatic and aerobic.

In an email correspondence forwarded to Obstacle Racers NZ, a high level source in the international obstacle sports community explained that the Obstacle Sports Federation (OSF) had been aware of the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique’s (FIG) intention to propose an obstacle-based event as a new medal event for the 2020 Olympics.

Is the FIG looking to hold sway over OCR? “There is a pervasive misconception that gymnastics has interest [in OCR],” they elaborated in the email, “but it is only in the language they use. Their interest is Parkour and the English translation leads some people to believe they are working on OCR based events.” (Editor’s note: the word ‘parkour’ is a derivative from the French term ‘parcours du combattant’, the obstacle courses used in military training. Hence if one were to translate the root term into English, it could be translated as “military obstacle course” or even “obstacle course”. Furthermore, the use of the name parkour itself by FIG is problematic as initial press releases may have avoided, or misused, the word parkour due to agreements between FIG and APEX School of Movement to honour the non-competitive philosophy of parkour by avoiding abuse of the name. However these agreements appear to have not been respected, contributing to APEX withdrawing support from the FIG.)

They clearly stated in the email, “FIG is not involved in OCR”.

Around the Rings reported that the FIG has approved a new obstacle course competition and gymnastics discipline based on parkour. The discipline will consist of two formats:

  1. Obstacle Course Sprint – a short-form obstacle race against-the-clock
  2. Obstacle Course Freestyle – style based performances that will be judged

The new gymnastics discipline, which has not yet been named, will be the FIG’s eighth discipline – alongside Gymnastics for All, men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic, trampoline, acrobatic and aerobic.

Parkour can be described as a physical discipline of moving freely within an environment using primarily the human body.

FIG’s actions have been heavily criticised by groups within the parkour community, with several organisations issuing open letters accusing FIG of “encroachment and misappropriation”. Earlier this week APEX School of Movement withdraw from its partnership with FIG and the obstacle course sprint format, citing that promises by FIG regarding the treatment of parkour were not being honoured. It was also revealed this week that the partnership between FIG and the Mouvement International du Parkour, Freerunning et l’Art du déplacement (The Mouvement) was not approved, nor even brought forward, to the board of The Mouvement, throwing the legitimacy of the partnership, and FIG’s claim to governing parkour, into doubt. FIG however believes it is on the right course, with FIG’s secretary general André Gueisbuhler stating in a recent interview, “I’m sure the FIG is the international federation most qualified to further develop parkour.”

It should be noted that the email correspondence does not constitute an official release from the OSF.

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