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British Gymnastics will not send team to European Championships due to coronavirus concerns

Max Whitlock and Alice Kinsella will not be defending the pommel and beam titles they won last year.

British Gymnastics has decided not to send a team to the European Championships in Azerbaijan in December over coronavirus concerns.

European Gymnastics officials announced on Monday that the event would no longer form part of the Olympic qualifying process due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

With start dates of December 13 and 17 for the men's and women's competitions respectively, British athletes would have faced the prospect of quarantining over Christmas under current government rules.

British Gymnastics performance director James Thomas said: "It is of course always disappointing to withdraw from such a prestigious competition, one that many of our junior and senior gymnasts have looked forward too.

"However from consulting with our medical and wider support team it has become clear that the consensus in-light of the continued concerns around COVID 19 is that to best protect the health and well-being of all involved and their families, we should withdraw from the championships.

"We also acknowledge that amongst the gymnasts there has been a mixed appetite to compete and travel given the shared concerns around COVID."

Alice Kinsella won European gold last year (
Alice Kinsella won European gold last year (Jane Barlow/PA)

The decision means Max Whitlock and Alice Kinsella will not be able to defend the pommel and beam titles they respectively won in last year's European Championships in Szczecin.

In a separate development, the British Athletes Commission has backed Amy Tinkler over her continuing allegations about mistreatment at the top level of the sport.

Olympic bronze medalist Tinkler released a series of emails on Wednesday in which national coach Colin Still appeared to allude to her being a "fat dwarf".

Amy Tinkler won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics
Amy Tinkler won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The release brought swift condemnation from British Gymnastics, which immediately announced that it had launched an investigation.

The BAC said in a statement: "The [BAC] recognises the courage it has taken for Amy to come forward and speak about her experience and potential mistreatment in the sport of gymnastics in this country.

"Bullying, abuse and mistreatment of athletes has absolutely no place in modern-day sport and Amy is right to speak up about what she believes to be mistreatment in the sport.

"It is apparent from the athletes that have come forward with their stories this summer that Amy is not alone in her negative experiences of what it means to be a gymnast in Britain today."

In July, the BAC partnered with the NSPCC to set up a helpline for gymnasts to report potential wrongdoing in the sport.

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Amy Tinkler pictured in April 2017
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