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If Korea is right, only Yang deserves gold

Aug 24,2004
Regarding the fiasco surrounding the judging error that may have cost Yang Tae-young a gold medal in the men’s all-around competition, we have seen two camps: Those who say that Yang should be given a gold and those who say the result should stand.
Judging errors in the Olympics are nothing new, and as long as humans are going to be the essence of the Olympics, we can expect the same kinds of problems.
First, in order for Korea to lay any legit claim, it needs to be determined whether it properly filed an inquiry. Under the current International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rules, any inquiries need to be filed during a competition before the contestants move to the next apparatus.
Right now, it is still unclear whether that has happened. The Koreans say they asked for an inquiry on the spot but were told to file a written one after the competition. Others sources say Korea filed one but was ignored (details are murky here). Was it a communication problem linked to language?
The FIG disputes that a claim was put forward during the competition. If the Koreans filed their claim late, there is no case. Period. Everybody has to abide by the rules. It does not matter what the video footage shows.
Now, if the Koreans filed their inquiry on time, what actions need to be taken is crystal clear. There should be no duplication of the gold medal. That’s nonsense.
There can be only one winner. And that is Yang Tae-young. Paul Hamm should get a silver medal and Kim Dae-eun should get a bronze, instead of a silver. Because by the rules, with all the existing marks and the one filed complaint at hand regarding the starting value of Yang’s routine, Yang is the clear winner. It’s just a matter of simple math then. It does not matter that Miles Avery, Hamm’s coach, said Yang had four holds in his routine and should be penalized for that. The Koreans didn’t ask why Hamm wasn’t deducted more points for his fall and landing on the judges’ tables in the vault.
What matters is what was done under the RULES, because that’s how this whole mess should be resolved: by the book. Otherwise, there will be no end to this.
Judging mistakes are made and will be made. Some are caught, some aren’t. If the U.S. didn’t catch the judges’ mistake of not deducting Yang for his four holds (three are allowed), well, tough luck, and vice versa for the Koreans or anyone else who missed something.
The only variable on the table is Yang’s starting value. FIG has admitted that there was a mistake and suspended three judges. But that’s about it where the action ended.
To suspend the judges without changing the results is just a joke. Why bother to suspend them at all if there is no justice given?
At this point, asking Hamm to voluntarily give up his medal is more than harsh. It’s not his fault that we are in this mess, although giving up his medal would be noble. Whatever he does or does not do, nobody should blame him.
At the end of the day, in order to save athletes who have sweated for years from the agony that such a fiasco brings, the current system needs to be changed so that an absolutely fair competition is ensured. There should not be any reason why enough time isn’t given to correct errors.
“Judges can make mistakes. ... But it’s like football. They cannot change the score once the game is over,” federation spokesman Philippe Silacci told the Associated Press.
But gymnastics isn’t football. Otherwise, stupid rules will continue to be a cause for athletes for despair. And in this case, for nations as well.


by Brian Lee


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