- Posted July 31, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What do the Paralympics mean to you?
Erroneous judgments in London seriously disgruntles South Korean supporters
It has already been four days since the opening ceremony of London 2012 Olympics. While most contestants and supporters have been appreciating many events, South Korea was struck by shocking yet, incomprehensible decisions made by the judges in at least three games. Currently, every media in Korea is outraging at these ridiculous incidents
The first misfortune went to Men’s 400m Freestyle swimming defending champion Park Tae-Hwan. After winning the gold medal in Beijing four years ago, Park has also won four gold medals in Asian Games and World Championships.
In the semi-finals of London 2012 Men’s 400m Freestyle, Korean spectators cheered when Park won the semi-final with 3:46.68, but just a minute later, the committee maintained that Park was disqualified because he made a false start. They insisted that his tiny movement before the start on the starting board has resulted to disqualification. Immediately after the announcement, Korean transmissions repeated broadcasting the replay over and over, claiming that he did not have any reason to be marked as a false starter. Members of the Korean swimming team also claimed “We watched the replay over fifty times, but we could not spot any faults.” Moreover, even the BBC commentator Ian Thorpe stated that Park was blameless. The Korean team was informed that Park has been reinstated only after being in four hours of misery and unfairness. Almost instantly after the confirmation, Park had to participate in the finals, and yielded his gold medal to a Chinese rising star Sun Yang. After the race, Park’s coach Michael Bohl said “It was very difficult for me in that period between heats and finals. I’ve been waiting for this day and there was a lot going on in this day”
The FINA gave excuse to the mistake referring to a “human error” In reaction, the angry Korean supporters told “Staying in a good mental condition is most crucial to a contestant. Park had to spend almost four hours in a panic without even knowing why he had to be in such bad position” The supporters believes that considering that Park’s main event was the 400m freestyle, this must have been a horrible faulty decision for him.
The second incident happened during the Judo Men’s under 66kg match quarter-finals, between Cho Jun-Ho (Republic of Korea) and Mashashi Ebinuma (Japan). After a regular five minute match without any scores, two Judoka went into the three minute gold-point session. In judo matches, when nobody scores in the gold-point session, three referees make a final decision whether the blue or the white will win, and this process has been a huge issue in this match.
After the match has ended, three referees were each given a white flag and a blue flag. Next, simultaneously, all three judges held up a blue flag that represented the Korean Cho Jun-Ho; he was selected as a winner by an unanimous vote. Then, the Japanese supporters jeered and made a huge booing noise. According to the traditional rule of Judo, without a formal appeal from a particular nation, the decision made by the judges on the ground is final, and should not be changed by any other factor. Although it was mandatory for the judges to make the contestants bow and leave the ground after declaring the winner, they did not take any further action but just stood there in a strange atmosphere. Soon, the Judo referees director Juan Carlos Barcos, who was sitting outside the ground, called the judges and had a short discussion. After the discussion, they went back to the position of making winner decision, and all lifted a white flag. A final 3:0 decision was changed into 0:3, not by a formal appeal, but by a persuasion of one referee who was outside the main ground. The Korean commentators were awe-strucked by the unpardonable action. Soon, they continued saying “this kind of action was not seen before, and should not happen in the future.” Many people claimed that this was an act that lowered the authority and prestige that the traditional three-judge system should maintain.
After the depressing judgment, the crowd gave Cho a standing ovation. The AFP referred this decision to a “farcical overturn.” And even the Japanese Kyodo News stated that three judges’ act to change their decision so drastically was like parodying “The Three Stooges” The Japanese contestant, Ebinuma went down to participate in the interview and said “I thought I lost the game but I won and I feel apologetic”
The Korean supporters have been fervently discussing on this issue and claiming that the system needs amendments so that nobody else gets into similar unfortunate incidents as Cho did. However, despite the hardships Cho faced, he overcame everything and gained a Bronze medal.
The third questionable call, already selected as ‘five most controversial Olympic decisions of all time’ by AFP, was made in Fencing Woman’s Individual Epiee semi-final match between Shin A-Lam (Republic of Korea) and Britta Heidemann(Germany).
After a tight match, they scored a draw of 5:5. At the end of the regular match, the judge declared a priority rule to Shin A-Lam(Korea), meaning that in an extended one minute match, The Korean will win unless she loses a point. On the other hand, Heidemann(Germany) must win a point within a minute in order to win. The two players failed scored for 59 seconds, but the whole issue was in the last one second. The German poured the last attacks in the very last second in eager to win the match, and the Korean tried her best not to lose any point by mistake. The game was thought to have ended when the clock went to zero, but the referee did not stop the game, but added one second to the clock.
By fencing’s nature, the games include countless pauses during the game, where the judges stop the clock manually. Within that one final second, the judges paused the game three times and Heidmann was given three separate chances to attack, and the final third attack was counted as a point. The Korean coach strongly protested that making three attacks in one sole second was clearly impossible. Instantly, the Korean broadcasters replayed the video and measured the time with accurate electronic devices, and discovered that the total time of attack clearly took more than one second. Although these replays were evident, after twenty five minutes of frenetic discussions of the judges, the score went to Heidmann, and Germany won the match. Shin seemed that she could neither accept nor accept the judges’ decisions, and cried in the stadium refusing to exit. Later, the spectators showed strong dislike by booing to the referees.
The Korean commentators criticized that the Olympic games were not innocent anymore, and Korean supporters have been making numerous parodies about the length of ‘one’ second such as “one second is long enough to travel to London”, “How come Usain Bolt take a huge 9 seconds to complete his race?”, “I am still angry even I slept for 1 second” The Korean news have referred the system to ‘pathetic’
The foreign news also showed a feeling of dislike. ESPN told that players deserve to be judged fairly.
After these three unacceptable actions by the Olympic judges, South Koreans have been showing strong disappointment and anger to the Olympics. “I cannot watch the games anymore because it makes me sick”, “We feel really sorry to the players because we know how hard they prepared for this and it just became a dream because of the questionable calls” were the Korean’s reaction. They are all expecting that these controversies will not show up again in the future.
Hyung Suk CHAE