| 16.1°C Belfast

Brandon Lewis to liaise with UK sport secretary after NI gymnasts again refused chance to compete at Commonwealth Games

Close

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said he will contact UK Minister for Sport Nadine Dorries following a continued refusal to allow NI athletes to compete at 2022 Commonwealth Games. Photo credit: Peter Morrison

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said he will contact UK Minister for Sport Nadine Dorries following a continued refusal to allow NI athletes to compete at 2022 Commonwealth Games. Photo credit: Peter Morrison

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said he will contact UK Minister for Sport Nadine Dorries following a continued refusal to allow NI athletes to compete at 2022 Commonwealth Games. Photo credit: Peter Morrison

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State is understood to be liaising with the UK Secretary for Sport in the upcoming days following a repeated decision to disallow NI gymnasts from competing in the Commonwealth Games.

Last month, Eamon Montgomery, Ewan McAteer and Rhys McClenaghan were told they will not be permitted to participate in this year’s Birmingham games due to a ruling from the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

Despite all three athletes being born in Northern Ireland and having Northern Irish parents, the FIG ruled that because they routinely compete for Ireland at events where Northern Ireland do not participate, they are not eligible to compete for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games.

It has been reported that following a direct appeal, the three gymnasts will still not be allowed to compete and that the only path now will be through a legal battle in the courts.

Tweeting on Sunday evening, Brandon Lewis said: “extremely disappointed” by FIG’s decision “ongoing refusal” to allow the three men to compete for Team GB. 

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“Their Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement rights must be respected and this decision has to change,” added the NI Secretary of State.

“Rhys, Eamon and Ewan have our full support.”

Just a few weeks ago, Mr Lewis also penned a letter to the FIG president, Morinari Watanabe, calling for him to “urgently reconsider this decision”.

Despite the lack of a functioning Assembly – MLAs from every party further joined to sign a letter to the FIG backing McClenaghan, Montgomery and McAteer.

Last month, Newtownards native Rhys McClenaghan posted on social media: “I was born in Northern Ireland, my residence is in Northern Ireland and I represented and won Gold for Northern Ireland in the last Commonwealth Games.

“I feel that FIG do not understand the gravity of the Belfast Agreement and the unique situation pertaining to Northern Ireland.

“Every other sport understand the eligibility of Northern Irish athletes in accordance with Commonwealth Games.

“I would like to ask the FIG to reconsider their decision and allow us to compete at the Commonwealth Games.”

Mr McClenaghan was Northern Ireland's only gold medal winner at the 2018 Gold Coast Games and told how it was “one of the best days” of his life.

Gymnasts have represented Northern Ireland at every Commonwealth Games, going back as far as 1990.

The FIG has been approached by the Belfast Telegraph for comment. 


Related topics


Top Videos



Privacy