Uri jumps into Olympic disputeTwelve Uri Party lawmakers held a press conference yesterday in which they urged Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, to remedy a judging error during the men’s gymnastics all-around event by awarding the gold medal to Yang Tae-young. Yang received the bronze.
Earlier, Paul Hamm, the American who was awarded the gold medal, was asked by the Los Angeles Times about the possibility of two golds being awarded. “I don’t feel justified,” he said. “But I will abide by whatever decision” the International Gymnastics Federation reaches.
In addition, a U.S. Olympic official told the newspaper that the Olympic committee would not oppose a Korean appeal for a second gold.
A Korean Olympic official confirmed yesterday that U.S. Olympic Committee officials and Korean officials met and agreed that they would accept any decision made by the International Olympic Committee and the gymnastics federation regarding the judging error in the men’s all-around competition.
“The U.S. side said that they would be helpful in case of awarding another gold medal to Yang,” said Park Tae-ho, the spokesperson for the Korean Olympics Committee, in a phone interview with the JoongAng Daily.
The official said the KOC is still weighing whether it should appeal to the independent Court of Arbitration for Sports, based in Switzerland. The Koreans originally planned to take their case to the court, but ended up not doing so yesterday.
For South Koreans to have a legitimate claim, they must prove that they made an effort to open an inquiry before the next event in the all-around competition, something the gymnastics federation said did not happen.
Mr. Park declined to comment on what evidence exists to show that the Korean team made its inquiry on time.
In Korea, the controversy has stirred up memories of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, where a Korean speedskater was disqualified and Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States won the gold medal. On Web sites, many Koreans have expressed their dismay about the gymnastics outcome, viewing the incident as another example of the powerful getting their way in sports politics.
In other news, the Korea Weightlifting Federation plans to ask the International Weightlifting Federation to discipline the three referees who oversaw the final competition in the women’s over-75 kilogram class, in which Korea’s Jang Mi-ran won the silver medal.
Korea says the referees’ “good lift” decision given to China’s Tang Gonghong, who won the gold medal, was questionable. Of the five jurors responsible for monitoring the three referees, they said, only two judged Tang’s lift a success, and three judged it a failure.
In weightlifting, at least three referees have to judge a lift a “good lift” by pressing the white button on their control box.
An official with the KWF said that while a reversal is unlikely, the intent is to weed out incompetent referees.
by Brian Lee