Graz-based star Johanna Farber angrily called for an end to “sexualizing women in sports” after a similar incident in June, urging people to condemn “disrespectful and upsetting” slow-motion clips and spend more time judging female athletes purely on their performance.
Now Farber has received a strong public apology from the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) following some questionable camerawork at the women’s boulder semifinal at the IFSC Climbing World Championships in Russia.
“The IFSC condemns the objectification of the human body and will take further action in order for it to stop, and to protect the athletes,” the federation thundered in a statement, adding further apologies to Austria Climbing, athletes and the entire climbing community.
This is far from the first accusation of sexualization of female competitors this year. Earlier this summer, Norway’s women’s beach handball team copped a fine for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms, launching a row that included pop star Pink offering to pay their penalty for them.
“For this disrespectful incident to happen once again to the same athlete is very disappointing at a time when more eyes are on the sport than ever before and more women and girls are being introduced to climbing,” said former GB climber Natalie Berry, speaking to Sky News.
“While the intentions of the camera operators and editors may not be to sexualize an athlete and instead to focus on a visually interesting chalky handprint, in the context of the sexualization of women in sport throughout history, it’s quite simply inappropriate.”
The saga received a mixed response on social media in June. “This is incredibly shocking and abusive to the climber who was simply doing her job and women in general,” said one shocked fan.
“[The federation] is responsible for promoting diversity without fear of abuse. An apology feels weak. I’d like to know if [it] is taking further action?”
Another replied: “They apologized for something that clearly didn’t have any intention of abuse. What do you want them to do? Fire the entire staff?”
When asked for details of the World Cup footage, one viewer claimed: “There were two slow-motion close-up replays of one of the climber’s behinds – and nothing else – while she was cleaning the holds.”
A reader responded: “Disrespectful indeed. Thanks [IFSC] for editing it out. I’m happy I won’t have to see that when I’ll watch the replay.”
Climbing made its debut at the Olympics in the Tokyo edition earlier this year.
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