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Olympic Scandals Rattle London – OpEd

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By Pershkina Anastasiya

Ukraine may go to Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne to dispute the results of the final 16 boxing tournament in which Britain’s Anthony Ogogo was unlawfully awarded victory over Ukraine’s Yevgeny Khytrov.

This referee scandal, though the most high-profile at the moment, is not the only cheats scandal that has marred the first week of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics

During the gymnastics team scoring competitions the judges offended the Japanese by awarding a low score to the team’s leader. Japan immediately contested the score. As a result, the judges re-jiggered the scores and Japan won the silver medal. That knocked Ukraine to fourth position causing the team’s anger. In the final 16 boxing match the judges declared Britain’s Anthony Ogogo the winner, even though his score was the same as his Ukrainian opponent Yevgeny Khytrov’s and his performance was less spectacular. During a semifinal epee fencing bout the German fencer hit her South Korean opponent four times in the last minute. Even though the unfairness of this was evident, the judges did not bother to mend it. Eurosport.ru observer Igor Zelenitsyn says that these scandals occurred through the judges’ fault.

“Even though the judges hired to judge sportsmen’s performance are knowledgeable about certain elements of the sport, they could be biased. It looks like the International Boxing Federation is a particularly corrupt structure. Even though there is benefit of the doubt, there is no smoke without fire. In fencing, tenths of a second are not scored, that’s why the Korean received four hits from her German opponent in one second.”

Olympic cheats scandals are also fuelled by the belief that the judges are playing up to the host country, or award higher scores if the sportsman comes from a country that has a high international standing. Nearly every sports competition is marred by referee scandal, says Nikolai Petrosyan, deputy chief editor of Chempionat.com.

“The Olympic Games are as politically colored as ever. Ever since the start of the Olympic movement, they have been clouded by scandals, boycotts, and terrorist acts. This year, Chairman of the Belarusian Olympic Committee Alexander Lukashenko has been denied accreditation. For this reason, victories, defeats, or referee errors are considered in the context of a biased approach or political games.”

There have been more calls for introducing video replays of the matches in the wake of the 2012 European Football Championship. This issue could also be raised after the end of the current London Olympics.

As artistic gymnasts and synchronized swimmers are ready to join in the race for medals at the London Olympics, the umpires will keep deciding their fate. Russian athletes have good chances to win them all. Supporters’ only hope is that the referees’ judgment will be fair.

VOR

VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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