Athens – Sofia Bekatorou, one of Greece’s most successful Olympians and a two-time medalist at the Summer Games, reaped praise this weekend for coming forward with a taboo-breaking sexual assault revelation.
Bekatorou, a sailing gold medalist, revealed she had suffered sexual assault at the hands of a Greek sailing federation executive shortly after trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he “stood by” the veteran champion and urged other victims of sexual abuse to speak out.
“It is time to uproot the violence of those in power against anyone in a weak position,” Mitsotakis said.
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 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 four years later.
Few Greek women speak out against sexual harassment and assault, especially among prominent members of society.
Deputy labor minister Maria Syreggela said on Saturday Bekatorou’s decision to speak out was “worth more than the ten medals with which she has honored Greece.”
Under fire over the alleged incident, the Greek sailing federation has encouraged Bekatorou to “give details,” 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.
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