Resignations and public outcry and prosecutor’s investigation as other athletes come out and speak up. With her revelations about being sexually abused by a high-ranking official of the Hellenic Sailing Federation, Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou opened the bag of Aeolus about what is going on in the Greek sports world. The office of the public prosecutor in Athens is to investigate into public revelations by Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou that a high-ranking official of the Greek Sailing Federation sexually assaulted her 23 years ago. Bekatorou’s revelations sparked a public outcry, other athletes spoke out too, two Federation members resigned, and some first consequences for the man she named as her assaulter during preparations for the Sydney Olympics.
Chief first-instance court prosecutor Sotiria Papageorgakopoulou has reportedly taken the initiative of ordering a preliminary investigation to determine what exactly happened and thus regardless of the the statute of limitations. She plans to call the athlete to testify on Monday or Tuesday, regardless of the statute of limitations.
Sofia Bekatorou: Olympic medalist’s decision to speak out over alleged 1998 sexual assault sparks public outcry in Greece.
At a conference on Thursday, Sofia Bekatorou revealed that a high-ranking official of the Hellenic Sailing Federation sexually abused her when she was 21 years old, Her revelations have led to an avalanche of reactions condemning sexual violence, from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to ministers, party leaders and representatives, and fellow athletes.
Bekatorou’s revelations gave courage to other athletes also from other sports to come out and speak of sexual harassment in their younger years. Two of them accused sports federations doctors, without naming them.
Ruling New Democracy has suspended the membership of the man named in reports as a Hellenic Sailing Federation official. The Hellenic Sailing Federation has reportedly requested and received the man’s resignation.
According to state broadcaster ERT, the man asked media to “respect his family and children” until the decision of the justiciary.
The presidents of the Sailing Association of Piraeus and Kalamaki submitted their resignation for reasons dignity and straightforwardness.
Controversial -not to say: “unacceptable”- is the statement by Deputy Minister for Sports Lefteris Avgenakis who said that he is “aware of many similar cases” and warned of “caution when investigating such cases.”
Speaking to Skai TV, Avgenakis said “there are many incidents and they need filtering and very careful management, not to go to the other extreme. It also matters who says it, everyone’s personality, because there is a risk that there is a desire for personal revenge,” he said.
He did not waste a word about what the ministry does about the “many incidents” with filter or not.
He invited other athletes to follow Bekatorou’s example and speak out about similar experiences.
Έπειτα από εξομολόγηση ψυχής της Σοφίας Μπεκατώρου για σεξουαλική κακοποίηση από μέλος διοίκησης Ιστιοπλοΐας, μίλησαν οι Μάνια Μπίκοφ, Ραμπέα Ιατρίδου, Μαρίνα Ψυχογιού, Νίκη Μπακογιάννη.
Σας στηρίζουμε! Καμία ανοχή, για καλύτερο αθλητισμό🙏
Σπάστε τη Σιωπή 👊 pic.twitter.com/MriKuwGAGD
— Lefteris Avgenakis (@l_avgenakis) January 17, 2021
speaking to Real FM, Avgenakis said that Bekatorou has made a complaint to the sports prosecutor already in November 2020.
This will not be the first time the Athens public prosecutor has investigated the Federation, as another Olympic sailing athlete, Nikos Kaklamanakis, filed charges of mismanagement. This investigation is ongoing.
Fact is that Bekatorou opened the bag from Aeolus and finally let the wind out for despicable circumstances and conditions in the Greek sports world that were hidden under the carpet for years: abuse of power by those who decided on the fate of an athlete, sexual harassment and abuse, the fear of victims to be targeted, not find support or even being expelled from the sports they loved and felt dedicated to.
Meanwhile, international media have been reported on the case that has been shaking Greece in the last couple of days.
Sofia Bekatorou: Olympic medalist's decision to speak out over alleged 1998 sexual assault sparks public outcry in Greece. https://t.co/DmhuwN7iqx
— Corina Vasilopoulou (@CorinaVasilopou) January 17, 2021
A senior official at the Greek #sailing federation has been forced to resign in the wake of sexual abuse allegations by Sofia Bekatorou, one of the country's top Olympians, the governing body said https://t.co/2U875U9C0f #AFPSports
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 17, 2021
The scandal has also other consequencesand reactions by sponsors. The Niarchos Foundation has said in a statement on Sunday that it stops donations to the Hellenic Sailing Federation.
PS It is a once in a lifetime chance to Greece to clean the stables of Augeas or follow the usual path of dealing with one example case only and then forget about the whole picture. But to do this it would need a Hercules, free of petty interests and other dependencies….