Here we go again, what will be interesting to see is if Korean netizens will either blame the Australian referee as being behind a Chinese or US conspiracy:
Eight years after Kim Dong-Sung had his gold medal stripped when judges determined he cut off Apolo Anton Ohno, the country was served another crushing disqualification when its women’s 3,000 meter relay team had gold taken away when it was ruled that a skater had illegally bumped a Chinese competitor on a turn. The DQ moved China to the gold medal position and gave the United States a surprise bronze.
If the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung in 2002 is any indication, South Koreans will be irate with the decision. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, in the hours after Kim’s DQ, his fans flooded IOC servers with 16,000 angry emails protesting the call. It certainly won’t help matters that the ref who disqualified Kim eight years ago was the same ref who made the fateful decision Wednesday in Vancouver.
Yes, South Korea, Jim Hewish did it to you again. The chief referee was in a precarious situation though. The offending bump was obvious, but it wasn’t clear that it should lead to a disqualification. Relays tend to be judged a little looser than regular short track events, so there was thought that Hewish might let the contact go. But after three minutes of deliberation, he decided that the bump had impeded China’s progress. [Yahoo Sports]
You can watch video of the race here.
The Korean coach is of course pissed off and put on big show after the race:
South Korea coach Choi Kwang-bok banged his fists in anger, glared at officials and argued with Australian referee James Hewish but nothing could change the fact his women’s relay team had been disqualified in an Olympic short track 3,000 metres final.Cho Ha-ri, Kim Min-jung, Lee Eun-byul and Park Seung-hi had already done several victory laps around the rink waving flags to the cheering throng of Korean fans when the dreaded letters “DQ” flashed up on the scoreboard, handing China victory.
Kim had apparently impeded Chinese skater Sun Lunlin.
While his skaters dissolved into tears, Choi was incandescent with rage at what he thought was an unfair decision.
“I argued with the referee at the end … but he ignored me and then he left. Today there was no crash between the bodies or body contact so I have no clue why we were disqualified,” he told reporters through a translator.
“It was out of my control when the judges made their decision. The main referee (Hewish) is from Australia and he misjudged it when Kim Dong-sung … was skating (in 2002) and disqualified. It was the same referee.” [Yahoo Sports]
Here is what he had to say after seeing the foul:
When it was pointed out to Choi that Kim Min-jung’s blades had made contact with China’s Sun Linlin with a few laps to go, he said: “The blade contact is no reason for disqualification.”
The NBC analysts agreed with Choi’s explanation as well. If you watch the video you can see that it appeared China would win the race until the bump happened and Korea took an insurmountable lead. That is probably what played on the mind of the referee. However, with that many skaters on such a small track how are people not supposed to bump into each other? Anyway it does seem like a pretty petty way to disqualify an entire team with 5 laps to go, but rules are the rules.
I bet this doesn’t blow up into full netizen outrage simply because it does not involve the US getting the Gold and Kim Yu-na is going to be dominating the headlines the rest of the week. By the way the US team was really lucky to get the bronze because they were way behind the other teams. However, in sports and even in life, it is sometimes better to be lucky than good.