[Journalism Internship] Referee bias yet again subject of controversy at Olympics
The Olympics is the world's largest sporting event, featuring summer and winter sports, and is held every four years under the supervision of the International Olympic Committee. As the most outstanding athletes from all over the world participate in the Olympics, competing athletes put all their years of hard work toward shaping themselves to be medal-winners.
Regardless, at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the athletes’ efforts to compete fairly under the gaze of the whole world were frustrated due to alleged bias in the refereeing.
In the short track mixed relay semi-finals in Group A, a runner of the Chinese team was accused of not tagging the next runner, but the relay continued regardless. In response to this,
Korean male short track skater Kwak Yoon-gy protested, “Is this the gold medal I dreamed of?”
Another controversy was that referee Huang Feng, who made a biased judgment in favor of Chinese athletes in the figure skating pair event at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, was spotted at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games as a technical judge controller. He received a one-year suspension for refereeing favorably to Chinese athletes back in 2018 and was able to come back again.
Controversies over biased refereeing have always been an issue in the Olympic Games.
One famous controversy happened during the 2012 London Olympics, where South Korean player Shin A-lam and German player Britta Heidemann played in the women's fencing quarterfinals second match. The match went into overtime as the score was tied 5 to 5, and Shin had the priority. Having priority meant that keeping the score at a tie would allow them to advance to the next round, which in this case was the final. Shin succeeded in defending herself from Britta until the last second. However, a timekeeper accidently made a mistake and the referee added one more second to the game. Heidemann successfully attacked after 1.57 seconds and the attack was recognized as a valid hit, resulting in Shin losing her place in the finals. This created fierce controversy and the International Fencing Federation offered her instead a special medal, which was meant to be “an aspiration to win and respect for the rules,” but Shin refused.
Another notorious controversy happened in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. In the figure skating women's free program, Adelina Sotnikova won the gold medal. There is skepticism that the referees favored Sotnikova in short and free programs, with many doubting whether her performance was actually good enough to beat Yuna Kim.
Critics say the home advantage given to the Olympic hosts was taken for granted, however, if such a practice does not stop, they stress that the reputation of the IOC will deteriorate and the main spirit of the Olympic Games, which is to harmonize and hold a peaceful event, will be lost.
BY PARK JE-HYEON, LEE YEO-JIN, CHUN HO-YEON