PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) - Austria’s skiers at the Winter Olympics will not be distracted by the latest allegations of historical sexual abuse in the sport, team member Bernadette Schild said on Saturday.
“I think too many things have been unrolled which happened a very long time ago,” Schild told a news conference two days before she is due to compete in the giant slalom.
“We’re living now, we’re skiing now, and we’re really concentrating on ourselves and our skiing. Of course there have been many questions raised in the past but for us personally, for our skiing and right now at the Olympics, it’s not an issue.”
German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday cited allegations from two anonymous female skiers who said they were raped or sexually harassed in the 1960s and 1970s by former Austrian coach Karl “Charly” Kahr.
A lawyer for Kahr, 85, said his client denied all the allegations and would take legal action against his accusers when their identity became known.
The Austrian Ski Federation (OSV) said on Friday it would look into new allegations of historical sexual abuse in the sport, part of a wider investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct by coaches, supervisors and athletes going back decades.
“My client says this is completely made up. These incidents never happened,” Kahr’s lawyer Manfred Ainedter said on ORF radio.
At a news conference at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, a question about the allegations prompted an awkward moment of silence before another team member, Stephanie Brunner, murmured: “I think we’ve got enough other things to do.”
The OSV said on Friday it had already set up an expert commission to deal with a series of allegations related to historical sexual abuse in Austrian skiing and it would present the findings to the public later this year. The commission would also now examine the Kahr case, a spokeswoman said.
Scandals over sexual abuse, sometimes dating back many years, have surfaced around the world in recent months and spread from the world of entertainment to sport, politics and business.
On Feb. 5, former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison for molesting young female gymnasts, capping weeks of testimony from nearly 200 victims about his decades of abuse.
Editing by Clare Fallon