Watanabe’s term as FIG president extended, Denmark withdraws as Artistic Worlds host

International Gymnastics Federation president Morinari Watanabe (by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Morinari Watanabe extended his tenure as president of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) after the worldwide governing body deferred its Congress to 2021.

The 83rd FIG Congress was originally scheduled to take place in Antalya, Turkey from October 23 – 25 2020, but has been pushed back a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will now be held at the same venue from October 29 – 31 2021.

The announcement follows a video conference meeting of the FIG Executive Committee on July 7 to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on gymnastics events. The Congress was also set to include presidential elections.

Watanabe, who has indicated his intention to stand for re-election, was elected as the new FIG president in October 2016 after securing a landslide victory in a head-to-head battle with Georges Guelzec at the FIG Congress in Tokyo.

Watanabe said: “The Congress is the most important event in the democratic life of the International Federation. In view of the massive disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we must accept that the situation is not the same in every country, and must not deprive any federation of the opportunity to make its voice heard at the General Assembly.”

The federation also announced the Danish Gymnastics Federation (DIF) had informed the FIG of its withdrawal from hosting the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

The FIG Executive Committee said it had expressed its regret and disappointment at the decision to the Danish federation and is considering the launch of a new bidding procedure for the event, which would be the 50th edition of the flagship event.

The competition was due to be held at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen on October 18-24. No reason has been given by the DIF for its decision to withdraw its hosting duties.