Morinari Watanabe, who took office as president of the International Gymnastics Federation—simply known as FIG—on New Year’s Day, proudly announced on their official website on Tuesday that the word “challenge” would be the slogan of the 2017 gymnastics family.

After paying tribute to his predecessor, Bruno Grandi, who officially bowed out during the Christmas holidays, he went on to justify that he was from Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, and therefore he would like to throw new sunshine on the gymnastics family. He also said that, “I am determined to rise to the challenge of forming a new FIG and I would like you to join me in accepting new challenges in 2017,” and continued to encourage everyone to please take on a new challenge that is different from what we all did last year.

There are 148 FIG member Federations and Watanabe looks at them as 148 challenges that he is sure would lead the world Gymnastics community to further the sport’s development. This is consistent with Grandi’s previous statement that gymnastics indeed has a bright future.

If we could recall, Grandi was confident in leaving the keys of the successful federation in Watanabe’s hands, his successor. Watanabe hasn’t been in the seat for a while but he is already promising an amazing new year for the sport of gymnastics, showing some aggressiveness and zealousness in his new role.


The 57-year-old Watanabe served as secretary general of the Japan Gymnastics Association before he was elected President of the FIG. He is also the first Asian chief of the FIG and the first Japanese head of an international organization for an Olympic sport in 23 years.

His four-year term runs through 2020, when Japan hosts the Olympics and Paralympics.

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