Britain to launch bullying hotline for athletes at Tokyo Games

FILE PHOTO: The Olympic rings are illuminated in front of the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan January 22, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon//File Photo

(Reuters) - British athletes competing at this year's Tokyo Olympics will be able to report concerns of physical or psychological abuse through an independent hotline service, British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Anson said.

This move comes after 17 former gymnasts in the United Kingdom last month launched a group-claim lawsuit against the national governing body British Gymnastics alleging a range of abusive behaviour.

The group, which includes three Olympians, served a "Letter of Claim" on the body, alleging physical and psychological abuse from coaches.

"One of the things we are ensuring for when we get to Tokyo is that every athlete knows who they can contact if they have got any issues in that environment," Anson told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"This would not be their line manager but someone outside the line. It can't be someone in our line management structure."

Last year, Britain's Olympic medal-winning gymnast Amy Tinkler and others also spoke out about their experiences with British Gymnastics, accusing coaches of bullying and "body shaming".

"There has got to be an independent hotline you can call without fear of any recrimination and that is really important," Anson added.

"We can have all the policies and procedures in the world but if they are not enforceable or if the athletes don't feel like we are on their side, then they are not right."

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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