Racial remarks by Brazilian gymnasts being investigated
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Brazilian confederation of gymnastics opened an investigation this weekend into remarks made by three members of the men’s team toward a black teammate that surfaced in a video last week.
The gymnasts were seen telling fellow athlete Angelo Assumpcao, 18, that a smartphone’s screen is white when it works and black when it doesn’t; that supermarkets’ bags are white and trash bags black. Newspaper O Globo obtained the video and made it public, saying it originated from the Snapchat app account of gymnast Arthur Nory Mariano, who also appears in it.
Klayler Mourthe, coordinator of the Brazilian Confederation of Gymnastics, said Saturday that he is gathering more information to decide what measures to take. The sport’s governing body said the national team is currently in Portugal, training for the next World Challenge Cup and then for the Pan American Games in July in Toronto.
After the incident created a stir among athletes and human rights advocates, Mariano shared another video on his social media accounts with two other gymnasts and Assumpcao saying they wanted to publicly apologize to their teammate. They justified that they were joking and that viewers misunderstood them and blew the incident out of proportion.
“There are no hard feelings. We are friends,” said Assumpcao in the video. He recently pulled an upset victory in the vault in a world qualifier earlier this month in Sao Paulo.
But Giovanny Harvey, the country’s minister of racial equality, has tasked the confederation and Brazil Olympic Committee to take the matter seriously. He is also following the case to see if there’s space for a criminal complaint, under Brazil’s antidiscrimination laws.
“It’s not a joke. This is a crime,” Harvey told Globo TV network on Saturday.