An on-deck incident at the Tokyo Olympic Games has led the FINA Ethics Panel to call on an investigation by the Reform Committee to remove the position of “Bureau Liaison Person”.
Lisa Wright, a Diving New Zealand official who was selected to officiate events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, filed a complaint in September claiming that she had been verbally abused by FINA vice president Zhou Jihong at the conclusion of the men’s platform diving final at the Games. Zhou is also the FINA Diving Technical Committee’s Bureau Liaison, and was serving in that role when the incident occurred.
Wright and Diving New Zealand believed Zhou violated the FINA Ethics Code along with Section 4.1.1 and 4.1.4 of the FINA Rules of Protection from Harassment and Abuse, leading to a hearing with the newly appointed Ethics Panel in late November.
The panel ultimately concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to sustain the complaints made by Wright and Diving New Zealand, and that due to the “unfortunate” nature of the incident it’s likely that Zhou and Wright have different impressions of what transpired.
However, the panel did require Zhou to issue a formal apology to Wright, and also questioned the necessity for someone in Zhou’s position to have even been on deck in the first place.
The panel concluded that the following should be added to the FINA Code of Ethics: “That no persons other than those duly assigned as working members of any Technical Committee be allowed onto the pool deck either before, during or after any competition.”
The panel then recommended that the FINA Reform Committee, created in June 2021, investigate the necessity of appointing a Bureau Liaison Person, which in this case, was the position of Zhou.
“The Committee is also of the opinion that the Reform Committee investigate the necessity of appointing a Bureau Liasion Person, as this position seems to cause conflict as a result of technical Committees having a duly elected Chairperson and therefore the necessity of a Bureau Liaison person whose powers are not clearly defined, creates confusion, conflict and discord, and as a result such a position should be removed from the Constitution and Rules governing Technical Committee.”
Zhou, 57, was China’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist in diving, having won the 1984 title in the women’s platform event. She was voted as one of FINA’s five vice presidents in June at the FINA General Congress 2021 in Doha, Qatar.
Wright is an experienced FINA diving judge who also officiated at the 2019 World Championships and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The FINA Ethics Panel was formed in 2017, and the members for the 2021-2025 term were elected at the General Congress in June.