The incompetent and irresponsible decisions of Olympic judges are fouling up the Games. In particular, unfair and erroneous judgments in favor of global sports powers have become a butt of criticism for degrading the Olympics into a political arena.
Coincidentally or not, Korean athletes have ended up as victims of misjudgments in favor of U.S. competitors on more than a few occasions. The short-track 1,500-meter finals in Salt Lake City in 2002 and the baseball semifinals in Sydney in 2000 are such examples.
One more such case is going on in Athens right now. In the men gymnastics all-around event, Yang Tae-young of South Korea lost the gold medal to Paul Hamm of the United States due to a scoring mistake by the judges. The International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) admitted the mistake by suspending three judges but would not reverse the ruling, saying the Koreans' formal protest was too late. In athletic events, players vie for the tenth of a second, but would we need the clock in addressing an injustice
But the Korean team officials' belated action cannot be excused. They should have been more familiar with the rules, making the right move at the right moment. Still this should be no reason for depriving an athlete of the honor earned by the efforts of a lifetime. Domestic athletic associations ought to strive harder for better sports diplomacy. But players should be rewarded or ignored according to their own ability or luck, not the incompetence of their delegations. Also to share the blame is the Korean news media in Athens.
While major U.S. media outlets, including the New York Times and USA Today, pointed out the problem in the gymnastics event, most Korean sports journalists remained silent, bent on following other medal hopefuls, giving them heavy psychological burdens and ruining their condition. It was the U.S. media that first carried stories and columns calling for the gold medal to be given to Yang, or at least allowing him to share it.
Yielding to dominant U.S. public opinion, the U.S. Olympic Committee has reportedly expressed willingness to share the gold medal. Albeit begrudgingly, Paul Hamm also said he could give back the medal to Yang f FIG ruled so." It would be best if the governing body of international gymnastics solve this matter reasonably. If not, the Court of Arbitration for Sports or the International Olympic Committee should step in to address the error. This is the only way to maintain the Olympic spirit, for which the Games have returned to their birthplace after 108 years.
/ By The Korea Times