The Safe Sport Journey Symposium in Liverpool was attended in person by more than 200 officials ©Volker Minkus/FIG

Participating officials at the inaugural Safe Sport Journey Symposium held alongside the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships here have pledged to make the sport safe.

The two-day event at the ACC Exhibition Centre was attended by more than 200 participants, with a further 100 joining online, and hosted jointly by British Gymnastics and the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) with support from the Liverpool 2022 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships Organising Committee and Government agency UK Sport.

Gymnastics has been rocked by abuse scandals in the United States, Australia, Britain, Greece, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland, prompting the FIG to establish the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation and a Safeguarding Commission, and introducing the 10 Golden Rules of Gymnastics and a new Code of Conduct.

FIG President Morinari Watanabe, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, called for organisations present at the Symposium to focus their attention on serving athletes.

"We need to bring the elements of enjoyment, friendship and solidarity back into gymnastics," the Japanese official said.

"Urban sports and Paralympic sports are successful precisely because they share these values.

"Every block in the inverted pyramid, from coaches, judges, National Federations and continental unions right down to the President, should work to support the athlete."

Li Li Leung, who became USA Gymnastics President and chief executive in February 2019 and a FIG Executive Committee member last year, shared the national governing body's experience of promoting cultural change in response to the Larry Nassar scandal.

FIG President Morinari Watanabe insisted
FIG President Morinari Watanabe insisted "we need to bring the elements of enjoyment, friendship and solidarity back into gymnastics" ©Getty Images

She said that the Symposium offered a welcome opportunity for organisations to learn from each other,

"The Symposium was a great platform to be able to bring a lot of constituents together to be able to talk about this really important topic of athlete safety, and it looks like we will continue to try and do the Symposium whether it's at other World Championships or our other large-scale events," Leung said.

"I did talk to people at the event to ask if they found the information that was shared and the time they spent at the Symposium helpful, and they said absolutely yes that they did.

"I have spoken with many countries about other abuse that is coming to light in their countries now and/or how they can work towards having a better framework for athlete safety going forward."

Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medallist Andreea Răducan of Romania, an abuse survivor and member of the FIG Safeguarding Commission with Leung, called on those present to emphasise the importance of "the journey to a World or Olympic medal", rather than "getting the medal itself."

Gymnastics Ethics Foundation director Alex McLin was another key speaker who emphasised the need for acknowledgement, apology and accountability.

British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell declared the World Championships a "perfect opportunity" to address safeguarding in gymnastics, and said that the event had "been able to bring together some of the strongest voices in safeguarding to share their stories".