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Parkour Rejects Gymnastics Classification and Battles for Autonomy

23 Aug, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

When we last checked in, parkour (also known as freerunning, the urban discipline closest to obstacle racing) had been added as a gymnastics discipline, and parkour wasn’t happy about it.

Nevertheless, FIG, the International Gymnastics Federation, persisted. So did parkour. The most recent salvo in the battle is the establishment of Parkour Earth as the sport’s top governing body.

According to an article in Inside The Games, Parkour UK's chief executive Eugene Minogue has been nominated and appointed as transitional chief executive on an ex-officio basis. (Note: It was Minogue who used the terms, "encroachment and misappropriation" to describe FIG’s claim on parkour and who lodged a complaint with the International Olympic Committee in June.)

Memo to all those outside the sport: Parkour does not do anything half-heartedly.

FIG told SDM via e-mail it had no comment on the issue of Parkour Earth, although it did note, "Concerning the development of Parkour within the FIG, and in line with the decided Road Map (decision-making process), the EC decided to form a FIG Parkour Commission, to employ a Sports Manager for this discipline and to launch a FIG Parkour World Cup Series in cooperation with the FISE, beginning 3-5 November 2017 in Chengdu (CHN). Three or four additional events will take place within the FISE World Cup Series in 2018, combined with workshops and educational events."

USA Gymnastics did not respond to requests for comment.

FIG responded to the allegations of "encroachment and misappropriation" of parkour, claiming this was never their intention; however, the IGB continues to say it is a gymnastics discipline. A deadline to reach a Memorandum of Understanding between all parties passed on July 26, with Minogue promising his side would “take all necessary and appropriate steps to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the sport of parkour/freerunning, our sport, our community.”

Evidence of this is the launch of Parkour Earth – the title of which transcends even international sports, a direct slap at FIG.

“Any International Federation protecting the sovereignty of the sport, art and/or discipline of Parkour/Freerunning/Art Du Déplacement should and must be established only by consensus of the international community, via a process of federating National Federations, as per entrenched and recognized international norms, on the established right of self-determination,” a Parkour Earth statement reads.

The six founding national federations of Parkour Earth are Parkour UK, France's Fédération de Parkour, New Zealand Parkour, Australian Parkour Association, Parkour South Africa and Polish Parkour & Freerunning Federation.

Previously, FIG had indicated that for the purposes of competition, it would be partnering with partnered with the Mouvement International du Parkour, Freerunning et l'Art du déplacement and the APEX School of Movement as well as JUMP Freerun.

Parkour Earth has wasted no time in creating a presence, setting up its own website, and becoming actively engaged on social media platforms, including Twitter (@ParkourEarth), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ParkourEarth/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/parkourearth/).

In July, Parkour Earth became a member of the Sport Integrity Global Alliance, an independent, neutral and global body dedicated to the promotion and safeguarding of integrity, good governance, and ethical behavior in sport. Parkour Earth attended the SIGA Sport Integrity Forum II on July 26 and the SIGA Congress on July 27 in Portugal's capital Lisbon, where it was formally accepted into membership of SIGA.

Parkour Earth’s organizsrs have noted that in order to “wholly fulfills its founding principle and object of good governance, Parkour Earth will begin to fully implement the SIGA 'Universal Standards.'”

Parkour Earth is now beginning the process of on-boarding other National Federations and communities from around the world.  SDM will continue to report on this developing issue.

However, at least one Parkour organization, Parkour International, seems to be interested in working toward a truce with FIG, if remarks on its Facebook page are any indication. The post, authored by Florian Busi of Parkour International, appears to show a willingness to talk, noting, "If FIG’s efforts to create a new discipline around Parkour are to succeed, it will be important to provide opportunities for consultation with those all around the world who are passionate about our practice."

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