The Japanese coach of a Chinese teenage snowboarder at the centre of a Winter Olympics scoring controversy has appealed to the public to go easy on the judges, after a senior official admitted that there was an error in judgment that cost China a gold.
Chinese fans cried foul after 17-year-old Su Yiming finished second in the men’s snowboard slopestyle event on Feb 7, with Canadian Max Parrot taking gold, despite being the first-ever competitor to pull off an 1800-degree aerial stunt in the Olympics.
Iztok Sumatic, head judge for snowboarding at the Beijing Olympics, admitted the following day in an interview with snowboarding publication Whitelines that restricted camera angles meant that the judges missed an error made by Parrot when he grabbed his knee instead of his board. He added the judges did not exercise the right to ask for a video replay.
Su’s coach Yasuhiro Sato posted an open letter Feb 10 on the Twitter-like Weibo social network asking the Chinese public to refrain from criticising the judges, and said that both he and Su respected the outcome. Sato added that he had a call with Sumatic after the event, where he communicated that both he and Su understood the difficulties of judging.
The hashtag “Su Yiming coach calls for public to stop criticism” was the top trending topic on Weibo early Friday, with many users continuing to call for Chinese officials and state media to lodge complaints to change the result of the competition. Sumatic said in the interview that people had been sending hostile messages to the judges after digging up their personal emails and phone numbers.
The snowboarding dispute is one of a number of controversies that have happened a week into the Olympics. In speed skating, South Korea said Tuesday that it would appeal two refereeing decisions with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the International Olympics Committee after two of its skaters were disqualified in the men’s 1,000 meter semi-final. In ski jumping, Japan, Norway, Germany and Austria had athletes disqualified in the mixed team final event due to suit violations, a decision that was greeted with shock and fury as competitors argued that they had worn such outfits in other competitions with no issues. – Bloomberg