Athens.- (Reuters, AMNA, GreekNewsOnline)
Greece’s sports ministry urged judicial and sports authorities on Saturday to look into Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou’s statements that she had been sexually assaulted by a sports official in 1998. Bekatorou, a gold medalist at the 2004 Olympics, referred to the incident during an online conference organised by the ministry this week, without naming the official.
On Sunday, it was revealed that the official was the Vice President of the Hellenic Sailing Federation and Vice President of the local organization of the ruling New Democracy Party in Rafina, Aristides Adamopoulos.
Following Bekatorou’s public confession, more athletes belonging to the Sailing Federation and other sports spoke publicly and revealing that they had also fell victims of sexual assaults by officials.
Sophia Bekatorou said that she did not open up about her abuse at the time, fearing that such a move would be devastating for her life dream and divide the Greek sailing team, according to the transcript released by the ministry.
But the decade that followed was tough.
“In this period, I achieved most of my country’s distinctions in sailing but have lost the most precious value of my personality: Loving myself”, Bekatorou was quoted as saying.
The Hellenic Sailing Federation said in a statement that it had not previously been informed formally or informally about the incident, and it urged Bekatorou to be specific.
“We urge the complainant, if she took the initiative even after so many years to talk about this unpleasant incident, to become specific,” it said, adding that it would do the right thing if the case falls under its competence.
Later on Saturday and following sharp criticism from the press, the Federation forced Aristides Adamopoulos to submit his resignation.
The ministry urged judicial authorities and the relevant disciplinary bodies in sports to investigate the case promptly.
IOC member and head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Kapralos said he would support Bekatorou with “all his might” and called on other athletes to speak up.
“We need to have a safe, ethical, decent and pure sports environment,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
All leaders of the Greek political parties condemned the predator and congratulated Bekatorou’s brave stance.
Violence is “a scourge that undermines the foundation of our culture,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday in a social media post, expressing his support for multiple Olympic Games medallist Sofia Bekatorou, who has spoken up about being sexually abused by a sports official when younger.
The prime minister was one of several officials who expressed support to her after her revelations, including Minister Culture & Sports Lina Mendoni, Deputy Minister of Sports Lefteris Avgenakis, Deputy Minister for Demographic Policy and the Family Maria Syrengela, SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras and Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata, among others.
In his post on Facebook, PM Mitsotakis said “Sofia bravely broke the chain of fear and silence, showing the way so that the stigma of guilt moves from the victim to the perpetrator.”
“I personally spoke with our champion about that painful experience,” the premier said, an experience “that she didn’t just ‘remember’ now, but one she never forgot – as no one should forget, but ought to react to. That’s why I stand next to her – not just as a prime minister, but also as a husband, a father, and an ordinary citizen.”
It’s time to uproot power violence against anyone in a weak position, he said, calling violence “a scourge that undermines the foundation of our culture” and calling on everyone to “take Sofia’s first step: We speak up, we denounce, we reveal, so that the light of truth burns up forever a crime that lives in the dark.”
But Prime Minister Mitsotakis failed to acknowledge that Aristides Adamopoulos was a cadre kof his own party. Later on the day, New Democracy has suspended the party membership of Aristidis Adamopoulos, of its Rafina division, for involvement in the case of multiple Olympic Games medalist in sailing Sofia Bekatorou.
New Democracy said that the moment a person was named, party Secretary General Giorgos Stergiou decided to suspend the man’s party membership and rights related to it.