- Questionable judging decisions have marred the first week of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
- There have been contentious calls in speed skating, ski jumping, and snowboarding events.
- The controversies have distracted from the sporting storylines at the games that really matter.
There have been plenty of memorable and exciting stories over the course of the first week at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Shaun White finally hung up his snow boots after his fifth appearance at the games; American-born Chinese skier Eileen Gu stole the show at Big Air Shougang; and Lindsay Jacobellis finally won gold 16 years after a spectacular blowup at the 2006 Olympics.
Peng Shuai, the tennis player who went missing after accusing a former Chinese official of sexual assault, reemerged into the public eye; while a Russian athlete is once again embroiled in a doping controversy.
One particular storyline, however, has been omnipresent above all others: the quality of the judging.
Since opening, the games have been littered with an array of judging errors, controversial decisions, and even accusations of bias — each of which has detracted from an otherwise enthralling week of sporting excellence.
Much of the controversy has taken place on the speed skating circuit
On just the second day of the games, South Korean speed skater Kwak Yoon-gy spoke out after a contentious decision in a mixed team relay semifinal allowed China to progress at the expensive of two other nations.
Both the Russian Olympic Committee and the United States had finished ahead of the host nation, however after a video review, the ROC earned a penalty for “causing obstruction,” while the US was docked for “blocking.”
China went on to win gold in the final.
“Looking at the way China won the gold medal, I felt bad that my younger teammates had to watch something like that,” Kwak said. “I thought to myself, ‘Is this really what winning a gold medal is all about?’ Things all just felt very hollow.”
Similar drama followed in the men’s 1,000-meter short-track semifinals and final.
In the semis, South Korea’s Hwang Dae-heon, the world-record holder, and Lee June-seo were both disqualified for illegal late passing and lane changing, respectively.
The decisions allowed Chinese skater Li Wenlong to advance to the final.
South Korea lodged a complaint about the disqualifications with the International Skating Union over the decision, but it was rejected.
In the final, China’s Ren Ziwei then beat Hungary’s Shaolin Sándor Liu in controversial circumstances. Liu had initially won the race, however was given two penalties for changing lanes and hitting Ren and then using his left hand to obstruct his the Chinese racer.
Ren, who appeared to retaliate by shoving Liu with both hands, was not punished and was awarded the gold medal.
Li Wenlong, who got through after the South Korean disqualifications, took silver.
Like South Korea, Hungary filed a protest against the decision, which was again rejected.
There has been judge-related drama on the slopes, too
In the women’s mixed-team ski-jumping event on Monday, officials disqualified five skiers who were said to be wearing excessively baggy clothing.
The female athletes were said to be wearing loose ski suits that judges ruled could have given them extra loft in the air.
The disqualifications were widely discussed, but less discussed was the superb victory of the unfavored Slovenian team, and Canada’s surprise bronze.
Later that same day, without doubt the biggest judging blunder of the games so far occurred during the men’s snowboard slopestyle final.
The event was won by Canada’s Max Parrot with China’s Su Yiming coming in second.
The next day, however, the head judge admitted he missed an error made by Parrot while performing a trick, that would have lessened his score if spotted.
Though judge Iztok Sumatic didn’t confirm if seeing the error would have resulted in a different overall result, he said there “would be different scores.”
Su and his coach, the Japanese snowboarding veteran Yasuhiro Sato, took the news of the mistake gracefully — but the error stole the limelight from what was a momentous win for Parrot.
The 27-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer in late 2018, forcing him to quit the sport for nearly a year. After going through chemotherapy and being declared cancer free a year later, Beijing was supposed to be his triumphant return.
And it was, until judging issues stole his spotlight.
Parrot will of course still be thrilled with his gold, but his return to the slopes, even if he won only silver, should have been the takeaway narrative from the event.
Not a judging error.
Courtesy By INSIDER