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FIG Rejects Appeal; No Worlds for North Korea
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation has rejected North Korea's appeal of its 30-day competition ban, confirming the nation's gymnasts cannot compete at the world championships in Rotterdam.


Olympic vault champion Hong Un Jong will be unable to compete in Rotterdam after the FIG rejected the North Korean's appeal.

"The arguments and explanations provided [by the North Korean gymnastics federation] do not justify a reconsideration of the provisional decision made by the President of the FIG Disciplinary Commission," the FIG stated.

On Sept. 30, IG reported that North Korean gymnast Hong Su Jong had been registered with three different birth dates, including one that would have made her ineligible for the 2004 Olympic Games. After appearing with birth dates of March 9, 1985 and March 9, 1986, Hong was registered for the 2010 Worlds with a birthdate of March 9, 1989. Hong was a member of the 12th-place North Korean team at the 2004 Olympics, which was open to gymnasts born in 1988 and earlier.

The latest birth date for Hong Su Jong confirms the long-held suspicion that she and her sister are twins. Hong Un Jong, the 2008 Olympic champion on vault, has always been registered with a birth date of March 9, 1989.

On Oct. 6, the FIG's Disciplinary Commission handed down the provisional suspension to the North Korean gymnastics federation, banning the gymnasts from competing in any international or even national event.

The North Korean federation filed an appeal, in order to allow its gymnasts to compete at the world championships, which begin Saturday. The appeal was rejected.

The Hong case is the second disciplinary action the FIG has taken against North Korea. In 1993, the North Korean women were unable to compete at the world championships because world champion Kim Gwang Suk had been registered as being 15 years old for three consecutive years.

The FIG went one step further for the Hong Su Jong case, banning the North Korean men as well. North Korean vaulter Ri Se Gwang — the only gymnast performing two vaults worth the maximum 7.2 in difficulty — will be unable to challenge for a medal in Rotterdam.

The FIG may take further action against the North Koreans, suspending them for a longer period of time. The federation also could strip Hong Su Jong of her silver medal on vault at the 2007 World Championships, even though she was age eligible at the time. The FIG stated it was investigating North Korea not just for age falsification, but also for "false registrations." If Hong Su Jong's year of birth is confirmed to be 1989, it would mean she was registered using a falsified passport in Stuttgart, where her year of birth was listed as 1986.

"The FIG Disciplinary Commission will meet in the near future and will invite the parties to a hearing, before finalizing and delivering its conclusions to the FIG Presidential Commission," the FIG stated.

Comments (7)add comment

LS in AK said:

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I am very surprised the same level of recourse was not handed to China in the case of Dong Fanxiao. Seemed like a similar offense in that case, with false birthdates and false documents to back them up.
 
October 15, 2010
Votes: +2

Tanya said:

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The difference is this is the SECOND offense for North Korea. I think China would receive a much more severe punishment if it happens again with a Chinese gymnast. Not to mention the Dong case was so long ago.
 
October 15, 2010
Votes: +2

Laura S. said:

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I hope they don't take away Hong Su Jong's silver medal. She was of age in 2007, therefore she won it fair and square. It's so sad that these gymnasts lose their medals. It's not their fault that their government is being dishonest. Those gymnasts work extremely hard and they're the ones being punished. I feel really sorry for the gymnasts put in a such a situation through no choice of their own.

I wish the FIG would get a clue and eliminate the age requirement! Or at least lower it so that the girls have more than one chance to make it to an Olympics.
 
October 15, 2010
Votes: +0

Hannah C. said:

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Rules are rules. We may not approve or agree with them, but they ARE the rules and therefor need to be followed. I feel sorry for the gymnasts, but I agree with the decision(s) made. Plenty of other countries (especially the US) have had many, many talented gymnasts who have missed out on competitions because they were too young. Even if Hong Su Jong was age eligible in 2007, you have to take into consideration the fact that she already had World's experience that she shield not have had. What if that gave her the confidence she needed to win silver that she might not have had otherwise? Sadly, some countries feel so strongly about winning that they feel the need to ignore the rules, and their gymnasts get caught in the middle and suffer for it. However, rules without consequences are pointless, and I hope these recent punishments for North Korea and China show nations and gymnasts everywhere that integrity and honesty are not just things to be valued when convenient, but necessary, enforced rules of competition that can't just be disregarded any time you want.
 
October 15, 2010
Votes: +4

Robin said:

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I agree, Hannah: Rules are rules. Even if you disagree with them, you need to abide by them if you want to compete and keep your medals. I am glad the FIG is following through with disciplinary measures. I personally fear for young gymnasts in countries with different ideas about human rights, like China or North Korea, who may or may not be taken from daycare centers as toddlers to be trained into elite gymnasts. I think an age minimum is important because it should, in theory at least, help prevent young children from being pushed to a level of training that might be too much for them (especially if they have no choice in the matter), all in the name of winning medals for a country.

What is most unfortunate is that the gymnasts got caught up in this mess. I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't even informed of the rules. I just visited friends in South Korea and they told me that Koreans (at least in South, anyway) consider children a year old when they are born, then two years old at the next calendar year. My friends said a child born on December 31 would be considered two years old on January 1, the next day. I also learned that Korean culture places a higher value on honor and saving face than on truth. My friends said that, in contrast to an American emphasis on individualism, Korean children are taught to fit in and be like everyone else. Obviously, none of this excuses what happened, but it helps me understand the gymnasts' perspective a little more.
 
October 15, 2010
Votes: +1

leo knoll said:

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It's not not fair!
 
October 15, 2010 | url
Votes: -2

Nonamer said:

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Fair?
I understand that the gymnasts from these countries may not have any say, but on the other hand, is it fair for people who played by the rules to lose out on a medal because someone else cheated?? No.
 
October 15, 2010
Votes: +1

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