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Simone Biles says it ‘broke my heart’ to see footage of a Black girl ignored in gymnastics ceremony

Simone Biles warms up ahead of day four of the US Gymnastics Championships in San Jose, California last month. (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/File)

(CNN) — Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles said it “broke my heart” to see a young Black girl passed over for a medal at a gymnastics ceremony in Ireland, footage of which has gone viral.

In the video of a GymStart event from March 2022, which has recirculated on social media in recent days, a line of girls are presented with medals but the lone Black girl isn’t given one.

“When this video was circulating, her parents reached out,” Biles said on X, formerly Twitter. “It broke my heart to see, so I sent her a little video. There is no room for racism in any sport or at all.”

In a statement released on Friday, Gymnastics Ireland said that it had received a complaint of alleged racist behavior from a parent after the event and a resolution was reached in August this year.

“The official in question accepted fully that what had happened had not been acceptable but stressed that it had not been intentional,” said the statement.

“The official concerned said that upon realising the mistake they immediately rectified it and ensured that the competitor concerned was presented with her medal before she left the Field of Play.”

The statement added that the official had expressed “deep regret” for what they had described as an “honest error” and a request to apologize in person to the competitor and her family had been initially declined.

“A written apology provided by the identified individual has since been issued to the competitor and her family,” the statement said.

Speaking anonymously to The Irish Independent last week, the mother said that the complaint had not been settled and the apology was not “genuine.”

“We are often the only Black family at gymnastics events and this has been very hurtful for us,” the mother is quoted as saying in the story. “Now eight million people have seen the video. From Pakistan to Ethiopia they can see this was wrong but Gymnastics Ireland still can’t accept it and say sorry.”

At the time of writing, footage of the incident has been viewed more than 40 million times on X.

In a statement sent to CNN on Monday, Gymnastics Ireland said: “We would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident at the GymStart event in March 2022.

“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry. We are also sorry that what has happened since that date has caused further upset.”

The statement, which did not acknowledge the comments made by the mother to the Irish Independent, also said that the gymnast continues to participate in Gymnastics Ireland events and the organization “look[s] forward to welcoming her back to our future events also.”

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