FIG President Morinari Watanabe reflected on the Larry Nassar scandal in his New Year's message ©Getty Images

International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Morinari Watanabe reflected on the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal in his New Year's message, stating "we should share the pain".

The fall-out from the Nassar crisis overshadowed gymnastics throughout 2018, with the former American team doctor being sentenced to up to 175 years in prison earlier in the year.

Nassar was found guilty of sexually abusing dozens of American gymnasts, including major stars.

USA Gymnastics has struggled to respond to the crisis, with several appointments criticised by gymnasts and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) beginning the process of decertifying the body.

Last month, USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in a move which the embattled organisation said will enable it to "expeditiously resolve" the claims made by the survivors of sexual abuse.

An independent report published by law firm Ropes & Gray claimed both USOC and USA Gymnastics had facilitated Nassar's abuse and had failed to act when the allegations against him emerged.

Senators have called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate. 

In response, the FIG Congress approved the creation of a Gymnastics Violence Prevention Foundation at their Congress last month in Azerbaijan's capital city Baku.

The creation of such a body was first suggested by Watanabe last February.

"We should not turn our eyes away from those gymnasts who are harassed," Watanabe wrote in his New Year's message.

"The pain that the United States feels is not the pain of the United States alone.

"It is the pain of all of us in the gymnastics family.

"We all should share the pain.

"We all should share the happiness.

"That is because we are family."

Watanabe also revealed FIG's slogan for 2019 would be "We Are Family", following on from last year's theme of "innovation".

The FIG President claimed the "gymnastics family" should recognise financially challenged countries and regions in his message, as well as those who lack "technical capacities".

The Japanese official asserted that the FIG should organise championships to provide value for spectators and claimed each gymnastics discipline had achieved innovation in each of its World Championships last year.

Morinari Watanabe stated that parkour athletes had joined the FIG family in 2018 ©Getty Images
Morinari Watanabe stated that parkour athletes had joined the FIG family in 2018 ©Getty Images

"In the current era, sports cannot develop unless they evolve as entertainment," Watanabe said.

"In that sense, each of our World Championships last year was an innovative event.

"On behalf of the world gymnastics family, I would like to express our appreciation to the gymnastics federation and the local Organising Committee of each host country for their tremendous efforts."

Watanabe added that a "new wave of parkour athletes joined us" during 2018, with the FIG Congress approving parkour as an official new discipline last month.

The vote came despite a concerted campaign from parkour communities around the world to persuade participating National Gymnastics Federations to vote against the inclusion.

Two Parkour World Cup Series events were held last year in Hiroshima and Montpellier following earlier test events.

Hiroshima, Montpellier and the Chinese city Chengdu are set to host World Cup competitions this year, while the first ever Parkour World Championships are scheduled to take place between May and July 2020.

Watanabe also referenced the establishment of an Oceania continental union last year.

FIG has confirmed Nicolas Buompane has officially begun his role as the governing body's secretary general.

The Swiss official takes over from his compatriot André Gueisbuhler, who held the position from 2005 to 2018.

Buompane had been serving as the deputy secretary general, before being nominated to this position by the FIG Executive Committee on the recommendation of Watanabe last February.