ISSA accepts Watson's apology for offensive gesture at ChampsMonday, May 17, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) has accepted an apology from Antonio Watson, whose gesture after winning the Class One 200m at the Boys' Athletics Championships on Saturday was a topic of public discussion.
Watson, a student of Petersfield High School, used his hand to mimic a gun firing at his Edwin High School opponent as he passed him to cross the finish line.
The action was publicly criticised as Jamaicans referenced the country's high crime rate.
Watson, in a statement this morning, apologised for his actions, noting that the “gestures could have been misleading”.
“Champs 2021 is over, and I must say it was a success, and I must thank ISSA, the sponsors, Ministry of Health and all other stakeholders that have worked together to make it possible.
“However, I am now aware that my actions and gesture at the end of the Class 1 boys’ 200m finals could jeopardise all that ….
“I, therefore, want to unreservedly apologise to all the stakeholders, my school, fans, and family for my actions,” the athlete said.
He continued: “I have taken full responsibility for such actions as it is in no way a reflection of the ethos of my school, the principles of my coach or the position of ISSA or any of the sponsors.
“Upon reflection, I recognise that my gestures could have been misleading, and I have no desire to negatively influence others.
"In fact, going forward, I aspire to demonstrate positive behaviours and attitudes that will inspire countless young Jamaicans to strive for excellence and make our country a true beacon of what is good in this world.”
ISSA, in its statement this afternoon, noted that Watson had sought to provide an explanation for his actions after embracing his opponent and recognised his subsequent apology stating, "...we accept his apology in recognition of our mission to use opportunities like these as teachable moments for our student/athletes to adapt socially acceptable behaviour".
See ISSA statement in full:
The Inter-Secondary School Sports Association( ISSA) is aware that there is a public discussion regarding the hand gestures made by Antonio Watson after winning the 200M event on Saturday, May 15 at the ISSA GraceKennedy Boy's and Girl's Championships. We note that in his post-race interview, Antonio sought to provide an explanation for his actions after embracing his opponent. ISSA also recognizes that an apology was made by the athlete and we accept his apology in recognition of our mission to use opportunities like these as teachable moments for our student/athletes to adapt socially acceptable behaviour.
“Champs” has always been a time to showcase and celebrate talent. While we encourage the colourful behaviour of victory celebrations, and acknowledge the value and excitement it brings to the Championships, it should always be within the Code of Conduct that guides how we act on and off the field and track.
As the organisers of high school sporting events we are committed to honouring the spirit of sportsmanship at all our meets and games by all our athletes and would like to remind them that there is a code of conduct to abide by and that ISSA is committed to supporting sportsmanlike behaviour.
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