France 2 offers an evening event centered on the documentary Un si long silence, which traces the journey of skater Sarah Abitbol and her courageous path to freedom of expression and reconstruction.
The film looks back on the extraordinary impact her revelations about the assaults she suffered had on the world of French sport. This exceptional documentary is followed by a debate led by Julian Bugier.
The evening continues with Infrarouge and another new documentary: ice therapy† The film follows former figure skating champions, injured by intensive practice of their sport, who try to rebuild themselves after a sudden end to their careers.
Such a long silence is in line with the daily commitment of France Télévisions to the fight against all forms of violence and intimidation.
9:10 PM — What a long silence
Young Sarah is promised a career of champion very young…
Like all little girls her age, Sarah Abitbol has only one dream: become a figure skater† From the age of 5, she trained intensively and possessed all the qualities to become a great skater and find glory. Moving to Paris and disrupting family life, this is the price you have to pay to become a champion!
It will be her, as a couple. Ten-time champion of France, vice-champion of Europe and bronze medalist at the World Championships. In the 1990s, speed skating was one of the most popular sports in France and around the world. All matches are broadcast in prime time on national channels and the champions of the discipline are real popular stars. Katarina Witt, Philippe Candeloro, Surya Bonaly, couples Anissina/Peizerat, Abitbol/Bernadis… Ice and glitter make all of France dream.
When a champion breaks the omerta in French sport
However, the skate world hides some of the horror: widespread sexual harassment and violent attacks on minors. Despite the rumours, the victims’ voices are muffled, muzzled by a system that protects itself. It is the lordship of omerta. from Sarah, raped when she was between 15 and 17 years old, was also suppressed for thirty years. Until 2020 when she finds the courage deep within herself to break the ice and open up about the attacks she suffered in the book Un si long silence.
The publication of his book led to an unprecedented upheaval in the world of speed skating and French sport as a whole. The other testimonials from victims are not long in coming. Sarah Abitbol paved the way for free speech.
10:45 PM — Debate hosted by Julian Bugier
The revelations of Sarah Abitbol’s rapes during her adolescence and early career caused a shock wave through the sports world. They have helped with freedom of expression for some victims. But is this the end of the silence? Are some still quiet? What are the roles and responsibilities of the various sports bodies that are supposed to monitor the practices and protect sportsmen and women: sports federations, the state, institutions such as the International Olympic Committee? How to support the victims? But above all: how can this violence be prevented? And how can we make children and their parents aware of the risks of violence?
Julian Bugier receives on set:
● Emmanuelle Anizon, L’Obs journalist and co-director of the documentary
● Roxana Maracineanu, minister (or ex according to news) of sports
● Sébastien Boueilh, Colossus on clay feet association, victim of sexual violence as a teenager
● Philippe Liotard, sociologist and anthropologist specializing in sexual violence in sports
● Greg Décamps, President of the French Association of Sport Psychology
11:45 PM — Ice Therapy
Marina, Lison, Camille and Aurea are former figure skating champions, they are between 16 and 24 years old. They devoted their childhood and adolescence to their practice until a sudden stop for physical and psychological harm. Today they have to learn to live without the skates. During a course organized by choreographer Benoît Richaud, they will try to reclaim their bodies through ice, understand things from the past through skating and give words to things they would rather not think about until now. Sharing their buried memories together, they come out of their loneliness and gradually affirm new desires.