Boxing’s governing body has punished two referees at the Olympics – including an official who failed to halt a match in which an Azerbaijan boxer was knocked down six times in the third round, then given a win on points.
“Our main concern has been and will always be the protection of the integrity and fair play of our competitions,” said Wu Ching-kuo, the Taiwanese president of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA).
Referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan has been expelled from the Games after failing to halt a match in which the Azerbaijan boxer repeatedly was knocked down. An AIBA review reversed the decision and declared Satoshi Shimizu of Japan the winner.
Frank Scharmach, a German who was the referee when an Iranian boxer was disqualified for persistently holding down the head of his Cuban opponent, was suspended from the 2012 Games by AIBA technical officials.
Inconsistent refereeing is a long-standing problem in international sport, said Allen Rae, past president of Sports Officials Canada. He worked the Olympic basketball tournaments at the Tokyo (1964), Mexico (1968), Munich (1972) and Montreal (1976) Games. Not all referees are as well trained as the men and women they must control, he said.
“International federations, who run the sports, send the officials. Some have had no exposure to top-level competition and some have had intense international experience,” Rae said.
Some come from a background where sport is a form of entertainment and there’s a certain amount of looseness in rule calling. Others – especially those with a background in international competitions – adhere strictly to the rulebook, Rae said.
Technology and cameras have reduced the amount of human error, “but you’re never going to take away the human element, nor do I think they should,” Rae said.
In boxing action Wednesday, Simon Kean of Trois-Rivières, Que., overcame a first-round disadvantage to beat Tony Yoka of France in the superheavyweight division. Kean’s next fight will be Monday versus Ivan Dychko of Kazakhstan.
Custio Clayton, a Dartmouth, N.S., boxer who upset Oscar Molina Casillas of Mexico last Sunday, has his second match on Friday versus Australian Cameron Hammond.
Three-time world champion Mary Spencer of Windsor, Ont., opens her Olympic tournament on Sunday, facing the winner of a bout between Li Jinzi of China and Brazilian Roseli Feitosa.
The reversal of the boxing decision Thursday joined the video-enabled reversal of a judo outcome last Sunday in a quarter-final 66-kilogram match. The referee and two judges declared the South Korean Cho Jun-Ho victor over Masashi Ebinuma of Japan after the match ended in a tie. But Ebinuma was declared the winner after a review. He went on to win the bronze.
Monday, the British men’s gymnastics team went to third place from second after judges used video to take a second look at a dismount by a Japanese athlete. The review resulted in an extra seven-tenths of a point for the gymnast, enough to move Japan to second place from fourth.
The growing list of unsportsmanlike incidents at the London Games also includes the expulsion of eight women from the Olympic badminton tournament for trying to throw their matches and avoid tough opponents in subsequent games.
Canadian judoka Antoine Valois-Fortier, who won a bronze medal in the 81-kilogram weight category, knows all about how video review can affect a match. Last year in a World Cup bout, he scored a point that would have given him a victory. “They went to the video review and they waved it off,” he recalled. “I actually ended up losing that match.”
And yet, Valois-Fortier says the decision was the right call. He has no regrets about video being introduced into the sport in 2010.
“Looking back on the old world, they would never have had the chance to review it and I would probably have won that match,” he said. “It’s part of sport. Some people thought they were right [to bring in video], some people thought they were wrong. I think that video review is there to help almost every single time.”
Judging is a part of almost every sport at the Olympics, either directly, as in the case of diving and gymnastics, or indirectly through referees making calls on plays.
Controversy is common. At the Olympics, a judge repeatedly added one second to a malfunctioning clock in a fencing match. That gave a German fencer just enough time to score a decisive victory over her South Korean opponent.
“Judged sports will never change,” Canadian diver Roseline Filion said.