Street-running body tells Olympic gymnastics to back off

FILE - A Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009 file photo of a Parkour practitioner jumping in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, about 1,200 km (750 miles) south of Moscow. Global organizers of street-running known as parkour have set the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) a deadline to end attempts to control their sport. Parkour Earth asks FIG President Morinari Watanabe in an open letter for an “urgent meeting” by Sept. 15 to formalize its right to govern. It’s the latest dispute involving Olympic sports bodies for control of popular youth-oriented events. (AP Photo/Yuri Ivashchenko, File)

Global organizers of street-running known as parkour have set the International Gymnastics Federation a deadline to end attempts to control their sport

GENEVA — Global organizers of street-running known as parkour have set the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) a deadline to end attempts to control their sport and give it Olympic status.

Parkour Earth asked FIG President Morinari Watanabe in an open letter on Thursday for an "urgent meeting" by Sept. 15 to formalize its right to govern.

The six-nation group seeks FIG's "commitment to take no further steps to implement your purported encroachment."

It's the latest dispute involving Olympic sports bodies for control of popular youth-oriented events.

Parkour combines running, climbing and acrobatics across an obstacle course of urban architecture. It has featured in scenes from the action movies "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Casino Royale."

FIG is working with some French founders of parkour to launch a world tour of events next year, leading to a first world championship in 2020.

After the International Olympic Committee added urban events such as 3-on-3 basketball, skateboarding, and sport climbing to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics program, parkour seems a likely target for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

However, organizers recognized in France, Britain, and Australia say Olympic ambitions are unwanted.

"As the International Federation for Parkour/Freerunning/Art Du Déplacement, Parkour Earth will henceforth be the recognized custodians of the philosophy, integrity and sovereignty of our sport/art/discipline internationally," the group said.

The open letter was signed by Parkour Earth's independent chairman, British lawyer Stuart McInnes who is an experienced judge at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The letter said it was copied to CAS and the IOC.

FIG is based in the IOC's home city of Lausanne, Switzerland, but did not succeed in getting a form of parkour added to the Tokyo program in June. The same day, FIG issued a news release explaining its vision for parkour.

The gymnastics body said some parkour officials were responsible for "bias and misinformation indiscriminately conveyed" on social media to create a negative reaction.

"FIG would like to specify that its approach has never been to unilaterally appropriate a discipline," it said in June.

The FIG executive committee is due to discuss the parkour issue at an Oct. 26-27 meeting in Benin.

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