Judging controversies mar credibility of Olympics
A series of judging controversies for South Korean athletes at the London Summer Games has marred the credibility of the Olympics.
Three athletes fell victim to controversial decisions by judges, which triggered an enormous outpouring of public outrage in the country.
Fencer Shin A-lam's contentious loss in the semi-finals of the women's Olympic epee on Monday was just the latest in a line of controversial decision at the Games.
Judoka Cho Jun-ho was awarded a win in his quarterfinal match only to have it overturned later by the head of the referees.
Swimmer Park Tae-hwan experienced a controversial decision that first eliminated him from the 400-meter freestyle finals and then reinstated him several hours later to compete in the finals. Park took home the silver in the event, which is his strongest race, and another silver medal in 200-meter freestyle. Park will aim for the gold in 1,500-meter freestyle Sunday.
In the women’s epee semifinal between Shin and defending champion Britta Heidemann of Germany, the two were deadlocked at 5-5 with one second to go. The Korean was closer to pulling off an upset victory and advancing to the gold-medal match because she had been awarded priority under the rules.
However, the two fencers played three times for the winning point, each time with “one second” remaining indelibly on the clock.
The German was awarded a winning point on the third with a swipe attempt that surely took more than a second.
AFP Sport looked back at Shin’s contentious loss and four other rulings that have rocked the Olympics for the past decades. Under the headlines of “Shin's tears of anguish,” AFP said: “With the scores tied, the German scored what she thought was the winning hit with one second left but which the Koreans believe was too late in a contest Shin would otherwise have won on a judges' decision. Chaos ensued before Heidemann's win was upheld and a tearful Shin was escorted off the piste.”
A senior official of the South Korean squad participating in the London Games said there could have been an intention to hold South Korea in check at the Games, the Hankook Ilbo, a sister paper of The Korea Times, reported.
“I can’t understand why time _ anyone can see it with his or her eyes _ stopped in the semifinal,” he said on condition of anonymity.
He said judges may have been determined to give the win to the German fencer.
Sources in Seoul said that in the international sport arena, there have been moves to keep South Korea in check. For instance, the International Archery Federation changed its rules four times as Koreans have dominated international archery competitions for the past decades.
Professor Lee Jeong-hak of Kyung Hee University in Seoul said: “The West has made most sports rules. They might strongly believe that as the host they are entitled to do so. As they feel depressed because of the current euro economic crisis, there could have been jealousy against Korea.
“How much time and cost it takes, we should build up personal connections in the sport diplomacy. This will help us see less disadvantages,” Lee said.
A senior official at the Korean squad said: “More Koreans should make inroads into the governing bodies of the International Olympic Committee and international sport federations to prevent a recurrence of similar judging controversies for the country in international events.”