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Greek Olympic sailor praised for breaking sex assault taboo

16 January 2021, MVT 18:52
One of Greece's most successful Olympians and a two-time Games medallist, Sofia Bekatorou, came forward with a taboo-breaking sex assault revelation. PHOTO: SOFIA BEKATOROU / FACEBOOK
16 January 2021, MVT 18:52

One of Greece's most successful Olympians and a two-time Games medallist, Sofia Bekatorou, reaped praise this weekend for coming forward with a taboo-breaking sex assault revelation.

Bekatorou, a sailing gold medallist, revealed that she had suffered sexual assault at the hands of a Greek sailing federation executive shortly after trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Bekatorou said she was 21 when she was subjected to "sexual harassment and abuse" at the hands of the unnamed senior federation member in his hotel room.

The 43-year-old mother of two said she ultimately chose to stay silent in order to keep competing, adding that the perpetrator is still in a "position of power" at the federation.

"At that time we did not have any collaboration with a sports psychologist, and of course I would never talk to my parents because they would have stopped me from sailing," Bekatorou told a government-sponsored teleconference on sexual abuse on Thursday.

One of Greece's most decorated Olympians, Bekatorou won gold at the 2004 Athens Games and bronze in Beijing in 2008.

Few Greek women speak out against sexual harassment and assault, especially among prominent members of society.

Deputy labour minister Maria Syreggela said on Saturday Bekatorou's decision to speak out was "worth more than the ten medals with which she has honoured Greece."

Under fire over the alleged incident, the Greek sailing federation has encouraged Bekatorou to "give detail", vowing to take action "provided it rests within its responsibility to do so."

Sexual abuse from coaches and sports officials has come under scrutiny since the scandal that engulfed gymnastics in the United States after team doctor Larry Nassar was jailed in 2018 for multiple cases of rape and sexual assault.

Athens, Greece | AFP

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