The FIG, the international gymnastics federation, and the International Parkour Federation have claimed further progress in their negotiations to include parkour as a discipline of gymnastics, on the basis that parkour will remain autonomous.
The FIG and IPF are seeking the inclusion of parkour in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris as a discipline of gymnastics.
Following a meeting at the FIG’s headquarters in Lausanne, the two issued a joint statement saying that they had “laid the groundwork for a promising cooperation in the best interests of Parkour to advance the sport worldwide as a recreational and competitive activity.”
The rapprochement between the two remains controversial, with Parkour Earth, one of several bodies that claims to govern the sport internationally, having expressed concern last August over FIG’s plans for “encroachment” into the sport.
Parkour Earth, which represents six nations, issued an open letter to Morinari Watanabe, the FIG’s president, demanding a meeting and seeking FIG's “commitment to take no further steps to implement your purported encroachment.”
However, during the meeting with the IPF, Watanabe “reaffirmed that the FIG would respect the autonomy of Parkour while supporting its development under the FIG umbrella.”
The IPF and FIG signed a memorandum of understanding, whose central tenant is: “The FIG and IPF acknowledge that Parkour is a unique culture and commit to do their utmost to protect the culture, integrity and autonomy of the sport.”
Victor Bevine, president of the IPF, said: “As long as we can be certain that Parkour will remain autonomous, then it is obvious that the resources of the FIG offer tremendous benefits to Parkour athletes and communities around the world. After this meeting, we are confident that the working group understands and will support the unique culture of Parkour.”
In their statement, the FIG and IPF pledged to “combine their respective strengths to closely collaborate in the development of a grass roots educational program, as well as a competitive event structure, an area where IPF has extensive experience.”
Despite the goal of the inclusion of parkour in the 2024 Olympics, they said that “the immediate focus will remain on global grass roots development and education among Parkour enthusiasts.”
Bevine added: “As Parkour inevitably grows and progresses, it is crucial that an organisation like IPF, working closely with Founders David Belle and Charles Perrière, remain an integral part of the process to help safeguard the interests of local Parkour communities and businesses and the philosophy of the sport as a whole.”
The FIG said in May last year that it expects to include two formats of competitive obstacle course events in the new discipline: ‘Obstacle Course Sprint, an against-the-clock format; and ‘Obstacle Course Freestyle’, based on performances that will be judged.
The aim is to organise World Cup series in 2018 and 2019 and World Championships from 2020, in partnership with the France-based Mouvement International du Parkour, Freerunning et l'Art du déplacement, via its President Charles Perrière, as well as with the APEX School of Movement in USA and the Netherlands’ JUMP Freerun, for the organisation of these planned competitions.
Perrière said of the joint statement: “Last year, David Belle and I made the choice to join the FIG after being assured of the respect paid to the discipline’s identity and of a flexible way of working that is compatible with its development. We are very pleased to see these commitments reaffirmed today through this exciting new partnership.”
The new FIG discipline, which has not been officially named, is the FIG’s eighth, alongside gymnastics for all, men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic, trampoline, acrobatic and aerobic.