Beijing Olympic Games – Chinese gymnastics team cleared
The Chinese gymnastics team was scrutinized based on the athletes’ age group, which was said to be under the age of fourteen, while the minimum age was said to be between fifteen and sixteen. This special investigation also included the 2000 participants of the Sidney Olympic team.
Some of the names mentioned were those of athletes such as Yang Yun and Dong Fangxiao, both of whom won bronze medals in Australia, and Beijing 2008 gold medalists, He Kexin and Yang Yiling.
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Dominique Dawes, a US representative at the Olympics, said: “It is not about the medal; it is important that you correct a mistake and hopefully prevent future Olympians from being underage. It is really about ensuring that every athlete does things the right way.
The investigation was conducted by the International Olympic Committee and they decided to start it basically one month after the Beijing Olympics ended. The committee has taken the time and the representatives have worked hard to find the answers to whether or not these athletes can compete, depending on the documents that each delegation submitted when registering participants.
The documents provided to the Olympic Committee indicated that six of the Chinese gymnastics delegates were old enough to attend the event. On the other hand, the committee also asked for additional information about two other athletes whose dates were not entirely acceptable: Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun.
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In the case of Dong, her birthday was dated January 20, 1983, but additional documents showed a different date, essentially a three-year difference, which defines her minor status for participating in Sidney 2000. The athlete was questioned, but as of this date there are no concrete answers regarding the actual date of birth.
This could certainly lead to a more complicated situation since changing the documents with the age of the athletes became a real problem when the age was changed from 14 to 15 years. The change had a medical purpose as the athletes’ bodies could suffer more injuries, so the standard age was eventually changed to 16 years.
The media have pushed the topic forward a lot because these young talents have to be looked after as people and not just as sports machines. Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, said that in addition to birth certificates, all delegations now have to provide school enrollment documents, family photos, and other documents. All of these documents have already been received by the Chinese group and everything seems to be in order, only the two athletes are still under investigation.
At the moment the Chinese gymnastics team has been cleared and the medals are kept. Representatives of the Olympic Games hope that these issues will be resolved sooner rather than later, especially with the new requirements, and that delegations will not try to reduce medal wins in the coming years by deceiving laws and procedures.