Outgoing State Secretary Paul Blokhuis (Public Health and Sport, ChristenUnie) wants to conduct an independent investigation into abuses within top sport. Blokhuis said this in the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon, during a debate about the abuses in the gymnastics world. In doing so, he also meets the Parliament’s wish to look further than just gymnastics. In the dance world, too, there were recent signs of transgressive behaviour.
HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and research agency Verinorm could carry out that research. Verinorm also investigated the abuses in the gymnastics world and came up with the report earlier this year Uneven Shelves. High-level gymnasts faced years of humiliation, isolation and abuse. For example, they had to train with injuries, they were called names and excluded by trainers.
More eyes in the gym
The Verinorm researchers made several recommendations. They believe that there should be recognition and aftercare for the victims. More supervision is also needed in the gymnasiums, by means of the ‘more eyes principle’. In this way, trainers cannot just go about their business without being addressed. Blokhuis accepts these recommendations and wants to inform the House annually about the progress being made.
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What is the price of a gold medal? That question came up several times in the debate on Wednesday afternoon. For the gymnasts who have been ignored, humiliated and abused for years, that price was too high, according to the Chamber. Several MPs have reservations about the compensation of 5000 euros to the victims of sports organization NOC-NSF and gymnastics association KNGU. “What is 5000 euros if your life is marked by what you have experienced in your youth. If you wake up every day with physical and psychological complaints,” said Member of Parliament Lisa Westerveld (GroenLinks).
Blokhuis understands the inconvenience. “I see the suffering of the victims, I see that, for example, they have to make a more than average claim to physiotherapy or psychological assistance and then at a certain point they have to pay a part themselves. That cuts through your soul.” At the same time, he calls it “complicated” to compensate this group for the costs incurred while other groups, such as the victims in youth care, do not.